Petrino has a longstanding rule of not tolerating domestic violence, according to the source. "Paul’s very disappointed and very angry to have given Dezmon second chances," the source says. "He’s told his team over and over, you do not lay your hand on a woman." - SI.com
By itself, that quote says all the right things about Idaho and Paul Petrino's leadership. You put your hands on a woman, you lose the privilege of being an Idaho football player.
However, those words ring hollow with context as the indefinite suspension of Vandals' star WR Dezmon Epps on Monday is the fifth incident of his tenure in Moscow. Yes, fifth.
Not to mention he's already been kicked off the team and reinstated once.
Here's the list.
- April 2014: Epps was arrested for DUI and pled guilty in June.
- July 2014: Dismissed from the team for a "violation of team rules", which was found out to be a charge of misdemeanor petty theft of $37.22 at a local grocery store.
- June 2015: After being reinstated in Spring 2015, Epps was charged with driving-related misdemeanors, including driving without his driving ignition interlock mandated after his DUI.
- August 2015: Stole $285 worth of merchandise from a campus store along with a teammate. Suspended one game.
- October 2015: Allegedly assaulted his girlfriend, suspended indefinitely.
Five incidents in 18 months, all of those coming in a combined 9-month period where Epps was on the team. Petrino tried to erase the fourth transgression and punished Epps internally because he brought the merchandise back. But in reality, it's five incidents.
Here's the thing about the fourth: while people can claim the "all's well that ends well" excuse, he really was never punished and never learned his lesson. Petrino obviously did not give him his positive/negative reinforcement lesson. Here's what should have happened after the first incident:
|Epps commits a team violation||Petrino delivers a severe punishment making Epps never want to do it again||Epps never commits a team violation/crime again|
And yet, here's what ended up happening...
|Epps commits a team violation||Petrino delivers either no punishment or a mild one via "internal punishment"||Epps continues to violate rules with little care to a point where the crime is severe enough that he gets permanently suspended.
After being kicked off the team for the first time, Epps was straight-laced until his re-instatement. He obviously must have shown areas of improvement for Petrino to bring him back. But now it's clear that Epps can't handle the responsibilities that come with being a star athlete--or even just a decent, responsible adult--and Petrino is enabling him.
Epps originally got booted for a DUI and stealing $37.22 worth of groceries within a three-month period. Since then, he failed to comply with his DUI sentence and stole $385 worth of gear and was suspended one measly game. Epps was lucky to even be afforded the opportunity to rejoin the team in the first place.
Paul Petrino, who was 2-21 going into the season, let a player with four strikes play in six games this season because he was a difference maker. Epps has accounted for 61 of Idaho's 176 completions this season and 757 of their 1843 passing yards.
Don't fool yourself, those stats embody Petrino's dependence on Epps to generate offensive production on the field. It's hard to deny that Epps' success this season is the only reason why he continues to be granted chances to turn his behavior around.
Dezmon Epps shouldn't be on the team now or in the future. His current indefinite suspension could last the rest of his senior year and take away the rest of his college career anyway, but it shouldn't have come to (allegedly) slapping a woman.
But what if Epps avoids criminal charges? That often occurs in domestic situations because of a victim's refusal to cooperate with an investigation or a lack of evidence. Would Epps be re-instated yet again? It certainly seems that would be the case based off Petrino's history of leniency with Epps.
After all, the sixth time might be the charm.