Saturday, November 26, 2005

RPN's Absence Explained

Many Notre Dame fans have been wondering what happened to starting fullback Rashon Powers-Neal, as he has not played since the Purdue game on October 1. Charlie Weis has been tight-lipped about the absence of Powers-Neal and there has been no comment from Powers-Neal until now:
On Oct. 8, Powers-Neal, 22, was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol while back home in the St. Paul, Minn., area during ND's first open weekend of the season. On Nov. 23, he pleaded guilty to fourth-degree DUI, a misdemeanor in Minnesota that resulted in Powers-Neal's driver's license being revoked for 30 days.

"I'd like to apologize to my family, teammates, coaches and to the University of Notre Dame for the problem that I caused with my poor decision-making on Oct. 8," he told The [South Bend] Tribune via telephone on Friday. "I realize I placed many others and myself in jeopardy, that I paid dearly for my choices on that day. I ask that you forgive me, and I assure you that this type of incident will never occur again."

Powers-Neal said his university-imposed suspension runs through Dec. 7, but that there were no assurances he might be reinstated to the team to practice for and play in a bowl game.

It's refreshing to see a school and a head coach actually take seriously the conduct of its football players off the field. Many schools like the USCs, the Florida States and the Miamis of the world just pay lip service to ensuring their football players don't act like their above the law (e.g., the Rey Maualuga situation at USC). While I think the suspension was a bit overly harsh (I think a 4 game suspension would have been sufficient), I would rather the suspension be overly harsh than not harsh enough. I'm sure Powers-Neal has learned his lesson, and I hope to see him in the backfield on January 2nd in Tempe, Arizona.