"Man I hate people who don't work for what they got. I hate people who think that my life is easy step in my shoes and watch how fast u brake"
-- Former Tennessee cornerback back Mike Edwards (aka RealGeniusMike) in a tweet sent Oct. 29 at 3:41 p.m.
Now that Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin had dismissed receiver Nu'Keese Richardson and cornerback Mike Edwards for their alleged roles in the best Great Fillin' Station Holdup since the one Jimmy Buffett sang about, it's time to figure out where the dynamic duo will play next.
While SEC football discipline has a justifiably bad reputation, Kiffin had no choice but to cut Richardson and Edwards loose. If the account of the Nov. 12 incident in the Knoxville police report is true, then Richardson and Edwards are guilty not only of attempted armed robbery but also of colossal stupidity. That kind of stupidity is contagious. It can infect an entire team like H1N1.
"We want a positive culture for our student-athletes that allows them to succeed in the classroom, on the field, and in life after college," Kiffin said in a statement. "My hope is that these two young men will learn from their terrible decision. Clearly, their actions have no place in our program."
Those actions will severely limit their options, but both guys are talented. Someone will give them a shot.
Earlier this year, Florida wanted Richardson bad. When Gators coach Urban Meyer learned Richardson might flip on his Florida commitment, Meyer peppered the Pahokee, Fla., native with phone calls. Those calls drew the ire of Kiffin, who claimed Meyer broke an NCAA by calling Richardson while Richardson was on an official visit at Tennessee. Kiffin soon learned there was no such rule. He's much more clear on the rules now. For example, he knows you can't point an air rifle at someone and demand money.
So would Meyer make another run at Richardson? We know Meyer is forgiving. In 2008, he allowed offensive lineman Ronnie Wilson back on the team as a walk-on a year after Wilson pulled an AK-47 to settle a disagreement with a man he'd already punched and spit on. Wilson rewarded Meyer's faith in October 2008 by, according to a Gainesville police report, getting into a fight at an off-campus apartment that left a woman with a broken wrist.
The Wilson debacle might make Meyer think twice. So might the fact that, from an image standpoint, it looks bad for Florida to take Tennessee's castoffs. So let's throw the Gators into the "probably not" column. Ditto for everyone else in the SEC. SEC teams get too much exposure to absorb the PR hit that would come with taking Richardson or Edwards.
A look at Edwards' top four as a recruit reveals one destination that might work: Cincinnati. Despite the Bearcats' recent success, they don't receive the kind of intense media scrutiny Big Ten and SEC programs do. Edwards, from Cleveland powerhouse Glenville, narrowed his options to the Vols, Bearcats, Michigan and Minnesota. No way Michigan would take him now, and Minnesota doesn't have the same opportunity to play in BCS bowls that Cincy does on an annual basis. Add to that the fact that Cincy may be breaking in a new coach - remember, Brian Kelly is the prohibitive favorite if Notre Dame makes a change - and he might be able to slip in under the radar. Sure, the local paper and a few national Web sites would publish tongue-clucking stories, but the stigma would fade, and the Real Genius would have his second chance.
Still, the sheer stupidity of the crime may give every FBS coach second thoughts about immediately picking up Richardson and Edwards. They certainly could head to junior college and play at an FBS school in 2011, but they might be able to do better than that. Since they each have three years of eligibility remaining, they could play in 2010 by dropping to the FCS or to Division II.
Disgraced LSU quarterback Ryan Perrilloux landed at Jacksonville (Ala.) State, and he leads the FCS in passing efficiency this season (176.87). Meanwhile, Terry Bowden returned to coaching at Division II North Alabama, and his roster is littered with players who washed out of bigger programs. The Lions are 11-1 and preparing for a second-round playoff game Saturday against Arkansas Tech. The poster boy for North Alabama might be receiver Preston Parker, who was arrested three times before he was booted from Florida State.
If Parker hadn't been a rising senior, he might have had other options. He had that much talent. So it will be interesting to see who gives Richardson and Edwards their second chances. Don't laugh. One of them may get his shot at your favorite school.
This is America, after all. The only thing we love more than a good gas station holdup story is a story of redemption.