Bahn: Wade's Determination To Make A Big Play Simply Overruled His Sense [Update]

by Chris Bahn  on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011 2:45 pm  

Marquel Wade is escorted off the field at Vanderbilt by Arkansas staff members, including strength coach Jason Veltkamp. Wade was flagged for a hit and ejected. (Photo by Mark Wagner)

This story is from the archives of ArkansasSports360.com.

FAYETTEVILLE — Marquel Wade is not a monster. Wade isn't a cheap shot artist.

Wade is an over-eager freshman wide receiver with a whopping eight catches for 62 yards trying his damnedest to impress his teammates and coaches. We should all be able to relate to being the new employee, the new boyfriend, the new family member trying so hard to please things go haywire.

That's why the the most telling moment of Marquel Wade’s appearance before media on Monday had nothing to do with the hit that got him ejected against Vanderbilt. Yet it had everything to do with the hit that got him ejected against Vanderbilt.

Wade, who was flagged, booted and eventually suspended for a brutal hit on Commodores punt returner Jonathan Krause, was asked about becoming more of a contributor as a kick returner. Wade offered an answer that revealed a lot about his actions on a special teams play that is understandably getting much more attention than his 35-yard return against Vanderbilt.

“I feel real good about special teams. I feel like since I’m a freshman I can come in and do my part at that,” Wade said. “And wait until it’s my turn next year and do what I have to do on the field at receiver.” 

If special teams was the only guarantee of Wade getting onto the field, then dang it he was going to guarantee he contributed there.

So Wade — all 5-foot-11, 185 pounds of him — ran down the field with a full head of steam and a head full of hope that he’d make a big play. Wade was totally and stupidly unaware of where the ball was, led with his helmet and leveled Krause. Wade appeared to celebrate a bit after the hit, so consumed with the idea of making a big play he was oblivious to what he’d done.

There you have it, folks. The root of what Yahoo! Sports writer Graham Watson unfairly described as “a blatant cheap shot.” Watson’s stance softened a bit on Monday after Wade offered an apology (and likely after a few days of processing the hit, rather than considering it in the heat of moment).

Where Wade went wrong — terribly wrong — were his antics after being dismissed from the game. Understandably his emotions were high in the heat of the moment, but it shouldn’t have taken two support staff members, including strength and conditioning coach Jason Veltkmamp, to drag Wade off the field.

“[W]e have to make sure that we address what goes on after the situation,” Bobby Petrino said on Monday. “That’s the thing that I didn’t like.”

Something tells me the conversation Wade and Veltkamp had on the way to the locker room is just the beginning of the time they’ll spend together this week. And if Petrino deems that extra work in the morning or post-practice is what it takes to eliminate that sort of scene, fine.

Beyond any decision by the SEC to suspend, I’m not sure the loss of game time is warranted. I think Petrino and Veltkamp can get their point across without benching Wade.

 [Update 2:30 p.m.] A suspension was handed down by the SEC on Tuesday afternoon.

Whatever immaturity Wade showed in the way he handled things on Saturday, he learned a lesson in maturity by offering an apology to a room full of reporters, recorders and cameras. Not only did he offer a statement, Wade took a couple of questions.

Credit Petrino for sending or OK'ing Wade at the podium. It was reminiscent of Jerry Franklin being ejected his sophomore year against Georgia, then apologizing a few days later prior to a press conference.

Having been through a similar situation Franklin was asked if he had any advice for Wade. Franklin’s response on Monday further backed up the assessment that Wade was trying so hard to please, he did something dumb.

“Wade is a competitor. He does the same stuff in practice and he goes out and competes hard. He was just really trying to make a play,” Franklin said. “I told him just keep your head up and just come back with the team. We know where his heart was. It wasn't in being a vicious hit or anything. We know he was trying to make a play.”

That is what it boiled down to, really. Perhaps Arkansas fans would prefer a player who thinks he’s too good for special teams and refuses to play or doesn’t give his all when asked to go out for punt returns?

Even Vanderbilt Coach James Franklin — no stranger to conflict — was ready to move on after the game. He applauded the way officials handled it, but added a piece of advice we could all take to heart.

“Those things happen,” the Commodores’ coach said. “Let’s not make this more than what it is.”

Exactly.

Wade offered up an apology. It wasn't eloquent enough for some. It perhaps rang hollow to others because of Twitter posts Wade apparently made hours earlier trying to defend himself from the national beating he was taking.

Still, he apologized. Wade took the responsibility for the bad decision and the overreaction. Assuming he’s learned from the incident that should be more than enough.

 

 

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