I’ve never been accused of being a doom-and-gloom kind of guy. More often than not, people say I’m a little too sunshine and rainbows.
And while that might not have much relevance for you in terms of everyday life, I think it’s important to share that before I give you my thoughts on what the James Sims suspension means for Kansas University football.
First off, I don’t think Sims' suspension will be crippling for the program. Sure, the Jayhawks for three games will be losing their top rusher from the past two seasons and the one guy on the roster who has proven to be reliable both in terms of moving the pile and hanging on to the football. But depth is plentiful at running back for Kansas, and there are four guys behind Sims who can, and likely will, use this as a chance to shine and move into a more prominent role in the Jayhawks’ offense.
For Sims, the outlook is not as sunny. And that stinks. In just about every way possible, Sims is a great young man. He’s polite, well spoken, respectful and genuine in every sense of the word. He made a mistake. People do it. But few people pay for their mistakes the way Sims will for his.
Three games might not seem like that many, especially for a junior who still will have at least 21 games to play after his suspension is lifted following the TCU game in Lawrence this fall. But this is not about sitting out of three games. This is about trust and a new coaching staff and missed opportunities. And it starts today.
With KU coach Charlie Weis — remember, he’s also the offensive coordinator — now operating with the knowledge that Sims will not be available for the first three games of the 2012 season, it’s entirely likely that Weis’ practice routine will reflect that. Maybe not so much during the final nine spring practices, when Sims and sophomore Tony Pierson will be the only healthy backs in camp, but definitely when August rolls around and Brandon Bourbon is full strength and reinforcements Taylor Cox and Tevin Shaw are on campus.
You can’t blame Weis for this. What coach in his right mind would give practice reps to a guy he can’t even use for the first three games of the season? The answer is no one, and it becomes NO ONE — all caps — when you’re talking about a coach at KU, which simply cannot mess around with must-win, non-conference games.
So that puts Sims at the bottom of a big hole looking up and without much of an opportunity to climb his way out. I have no doubt that the young man will be a model student-athlete from this point on. I’m sure he’ll do everything in his power — and then some — to prove to his coaches and teammates how sorry he is for the mistake he made. That’s admirable. It will help. And it says a lot about who James Sims is as a person. As for who James Sims is as a college football player? Sadly, we may already know the answer to that. He may go down as one of just a few bright spots during two terrible seasons of Kansas football.
There are, of course, alternative outcomes to this story. Some of them even feature Sims returning to his spot in the KU backfield and continuing to use his size, strength and vision to carve out yardage. But based on one bad decision, whether we get to that point or not no longer is up to Sims. He’ll play again if the other backs ahead of him fumble too often or can’t stay healthy. If not? He might be done.