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GRIZ GRIT: Jimmy Wilson’s Future

By Beacon Staff

As I sit at my desk less than a week after University of Montana Grizzlies cornerback Jimmy Wilson was cited for misdemeanor assault after an alleged incident in a vehicle at 2:15 a.m., I’m stuck in a quandary.

There’s little doubt after recently writing favorably about his return, you’re entitled to my thoughts about what the future should hold for him. But I don’t have all the information about the incident, so I don’t have an answer.

Wilson has reportedly been maniacal in the UM weight room since his recent return to Missoula from California and has shown signs of assuming a leadership role on a defense, which is desperately needed.

But being a leader doesn’t just happen on the field or in the weight room. And it has as much to do with integrity and personal responsibility as it does with athletic prowess.

It would be easy to call for Wilson’s dismissal as many Griz fans on comment boards have. And I’m not saying such a stance is not justifiable.

It also is easy to chastise the folks who stuck their neck out by allowing his return to the UM campus – to take the “I told you so” stance and clamor for his scholarship to go to “a good Montana kid who deserves it.”

I don’t claim to have the answer here and will not even approach making a recommendation as to what Wilson’s future status should be. I also will not defend him being in a vehicle packed with five other passengers at that time of the morning, given what I know was a no-tolerance policy upon his return to the team.

While it is easy to justify his presence downtown by comparing it to the actions of other players a few days before the drudgery of fall camp starts – it’s tradition after all – Wilson had to understand he is under a microscope and with a certain amount of people predicting he will fail to measure up.

One person close to the football program put it best this week when he said, “for Jimmy to have one beer is like you or I having 10.” Enough said.

I hoped he would be smarter than to put himself even close to a compromising situation, but I’m not willing to call for his dismissal even though any future life on the field will be even more challenging and any decision about his retention is bound to bring an outcry of dissent.

When Oregon’s LaGarrette Blount punched Boise’s Byron Hout in front of a national television audience last year, I was outraged, not only by the punch but how he treated coaches trying to get him off the field.

He’s an emotional guy who reacted to a poor post-game comment. But he was out of control.

My initial reaction was he should never play another down of college football and was a disgrace to the game. But the way Oregon Coach Chip Kelly handled the situation – by giving him a difficult avenue to return – was I believe the right way to proceed.

Blount had plenty of troubles before that incident and it reflected negatively on the Duck program. But isn’t the college football experience as much about teaching and striving toward maturation as it is succeeding on the field?

There is little doubt Wilson has put himself in situation where his judgment has to be questioned. This indeed is another one of those circumstances.

I’ll surely support and defend the forthcoming decision about his status. But I ask you as fans to approach the situation with an open mind. If this was your son or daughter, what would you want to occur?

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