November 14, 2011
With all due respect to WKU volleyball, which clinched the Sun Belt regular season title and No. 1 seed for the Sun Belt Tournament, this was a bad weekend for WKU athletics.
Let's start right off the top with the football team. Kudos to the Hilltoppers for playing an outstanding first half of football against top-ranked LSU. Folks tuning into ESPNU Saturday night did not see a fledgling FBS football program. Instead they watched a road team play the No. 1 team in the land about even for thirty minutes before the better team took control and pulled away. Here comes the punch-line...
However, the Hilltoppers' great effort turned into an afterthought when it was discovered mid-game that WKU defensive coordinator Lance Guidry was arrested early Saturday morning for DWI (Driving While Intoxicated). Guidry informed head coach Willie Taggart and athletic director Ross Bjork of his arrest later that morning. The controversial decision was made to allow Guidry to coach Saturday night against the Tigers. Taggart declined comment immediately after the game.
Since then, WKU has been in damage control mode. Guidry, Taggart, and Bjork all released statements Sunday afternoon and the topic was discussed for nearly ten minutes during Taggart's Monday press conference. Guidry will remain defensive coordinator at WKU and he will coach the final two games of the regular season. Taggart and Bjork say Guidry will be disciplined privately and sternly.
For some people, that is not good enough. Several people expressed to me their desire to see Guidry removed from the program altogether. Keep in mind this was during a business trip. I can tell you right now, (and in no way do I believe I am alone here) had I been arrested in Baton Rouge last weekend for the same offense, I am probably not writing this blog. We will probably never know how Guidry was punished. Therefore, fans are left to trust Taggart and Bjork that the punishment fits the crime. Taggart says it does. I guess we have to take his word for it.
Now onto WKU basketball. We learned a little more than an hour before tip-off Friday night junior center Teeng Akol was suspended for the first three games for violating team rules at the conclusion of last season. We also found out freshmen George Fant and T.J. Price had to sit out due to a paperwork issue regarding their summer employment. The school says the snafu was discovered on Thursday. As I write, we are approximately two hours from Monday's tip-off with Tennessee State. We still do not know whether Fant and Price will play.
Without three important pieces of the team, the Hilltoppers lost 72-61 to Saint Joseph's. WKU shot 26 percent...for the game.
And then there are the Lady Toppers, which drew less than one thousand fans for their season opener. That is bad, bad sign moving forward. The team then loss to a Towson program that won nine games the previous year. This could be a very long season for coach Mary Taylor Cowles and her coaching staff.
In time, people will forget about Guidry's DWI, especially if the team continues to win. Akol will back for coach Ken McDonald this weekend for the Charleston Classic. Fant and Price will eventually become eligible again, perhaps tonight. The on-court performances of the Toppers and Lady Toppers, however, is still to be determined.
But this is certainly a weekend WKU would like to forget.