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Friday, August 21, 2009

Smith's future at Auburn unknown following arrest

Since the Eric Smith saga is sure to draw plenty of interest, here's an early look at the story I wrote about it tomorrow.
AUBURN, Ala. — Gene Chizik didn’t say whether or not running back Eric Smith has a future with the Auburn football team after the sophomore was arrested for disorderly conduct in the early hours of Friday morning.

If Smith does, Chizik said, he will have paid a price.

The Auburn head coach refused to go into specifics of Smith’s misdemeanor arrest in the parking lot of a local hotel, calling it a “family matter” between Smith, himself and the team. Smith did not practice Friday and was not on the sidelines watching.

Chizik called a team meeting to discuss the incident prior to Friday’s practice. Although he did not reveal Smith’s punishment publicly, he assured members of the media that the situation had been addressed.

“We have certain expectations of an Auburn man and quite frankly he didn’t live up to that,” Chizik said after practice. “If you see him in an Auburn uniform again, I can guarantee you that he’s paid a price to be an Auburn man and he’ll be a lot better one at that point than he is now.”

Chizik did not clarify Smith’s status with the team, refusing to answer further questions on the subject. He stonewalled four straight questions about the incident before growing irritated, saying to assembled reporters, “If y’all want to talk about football, that’d be a great idea.”

Smith, 19, was arrested Friday morning at 1:42 a.m. outside the Lexington Hotel on South College St., a few miles south of downtown Auburn. He was sober and did not resist arrest, according to a partially redacted report provided by the Auburn Police Department.

Smith was transported to Lee County Detention Center, according to Auburn police Capt. Tom Stofer. He was booked and released on $300 bond, according to the Opelika-Auburn News.

Stofer said Auburn police responded to the Lexington Hotel after receiving a call about a fight. At that point, a different Auburn student was arrested for public drunkenness, the O-A News reported. Smith was arrested for disorderly conduct shortly thereafter.

Smith has a Nov. 5 court date, although his charge can be resolved without going to trial.

A native of Seffner, Fla., just outside of Tampa, Smith has battled Mario Fannin, Onterio McCalebb and Dontae Aycock for carries behind starter Ben Tate. The 5-foot-10, 237-pound tailback ran 21 times for 83 yards as a freshman last year.

“He really understands the system and he’s just a jack-of-all-trades,” running backs coach Curtis Luper said two days ago. “He can do it all. He’s a great pass protector, he has great hands, he can run the football, he can block.”

Chizik specifically cited Smith as being one of the players who stood out during Auburn’s first scrimmage a week and a half ago.

Although Chizik did not reveal Smith’s penalty, he’s been stern with previous punishments. This summer, he dismissed three backup defensive players — linebacker Marcus Jemison, safety Christian Thompson and defensive lineman Jomarcus Savage — for various disciplinary reasons.

Chizik said the team has a curfew policy in place but declined to give specifics.


ron mexico said...

That's some pretty funny dialogue between ya'll and chizik on the post before this one. Do you think chizik acts so gaurded with media for any particular reason or do you think that's just in his make up?

Andy Bitter said...

I think he's a football coach and that's how they act on most occasions.

What was ridiculous is that he would not say whether or not Smith is still a member of that team. That's a simple yes or no question, and by not answering it Chizik merely opened everything up to speculation.

Generally, I think the more football coaches try to control information, the more it becomes a bigger issue. I think some transparency would help in that sense.

War Eagle AC-47 said...

Young Mr. Smith is in the process of being scared straight. Fix the problem, save the man. Hopefully he learned something this week.