BYU shines: One college follows its rules

What do you like to do when you're at home sick? Read trashy novels, watch a Jersey Shore marathon or a bunch of Star Wars movies back to back? Maybe you like your Momma to come over and rub your head.

When I was under the weather this past week, I didn’t do any of those things, but I found a guilty pleasure just the same: watching the NFL Scouting Combine.

If you haven’t watched the Combine, you've missed one of the great conundrums of our age: how can a weeklong program be at once so riveting and so boring? Watching hundreds of college players spend their days running the 40-yard dash and doing bench presses, cone drills, vertical jumps and high jumps is not high culture. (Unfortunately, the viewing audience can’t watch the NFL hopefuls sweat it out over the Wonderlic test.)

The commentary is minimal, so the Combine is like a track and field competition on mute– or golf with better bodies and more action. It's really perfect viewing if you're parked on the sofa on doctor’s orders. You don’t have to think, and the interviews are funny.

But even the sick can’t stay on the sofa forever, and the prompt to get up came just when this sickie needed it. Bless Brigham Young University.

As a moderate Baptist (not Southern, mind you), I never thought I'd bless BYU for anything more than its presence in Big Love, but last week Mormonism came to the fore in a way that even the most skeptical among us should appreciate– the operative word’s being “should.”

When BYU basketball star Brandon Davies was kicked off the team for violating the school’s honor code, the resulting uproar got me off the sofa fast.

Funny, isn’t it, that there should be an uproar about honor where there's so seldom the same reaction to a lack of honor. When the March 7 Sports Illustrated revealed that 22 Pittsburgh football players, 23 percent of them on scholarship, had criminal records, there was a lot of talk about how kids make mistakes and deserve second chances. But I didn't hear any about how there's no excuse for domestic violence, sex offenses or assault and battery.

Charges get reduced from felonies to misdemeanors, schools don’t look into their players’ pasts, and “juvenile” excuses everything, so of course there's no uproar. Schools, players, parents, prosecutors and fans are so busy making excuses they don’t have enough breath for an uproar.

Unless they're shamed into it.

That’s what Brandon Davies and BYU have done to everyone from the president of the NCAA and head coaches, to water-bottle carriers and students and fans at home: they've shamed us. If they hadn’t, there would be no uproar (see Pittsburgh).

Davies wasn’t outed: he didn’t try to hide anything from his school. Brandon Davies, star player for the Cougars of the Mountain West, confessed to his coach and to his Bishop that he had violated the University’s honor code. It doesn’t matter what that violation was– though it’s public knowledge now– Davies knew it, and he confessed it knowing what the consequences would be.

So I’m off the sofa applauding Brandon Davies’ courage and BYU’s action. Then I’m on my knees, because I hope I have that kind of courage, and I’m floored because I realize there are so few people who approve of BYU’s actions.

Mere moments after BYU announced Davies’ suspension, commentary was flying about how the school had ruined its Final Four chances, and how Davies would regret his confession for the rest of his life, and how he let down his team and the school should change, and he’s a good kid, blah blah.

Everywhere you turned was an excuse for dishonor and a vilification of honor. It was enough to send me back to the sofa.
Juanita Giles lives on a farm in Charlotte County with her husband, son and many dogs.