Washington State leads all of college football in arrests in the last five years. We examine their transgressions a little more closely.
Washington State leads the country in college football arrests, according to a data analysis done by former San Jose Mercury News reporter Mike Rosenberg.
Rosenberg used data on ArrestNation.com to rank the top 25 college football teams based on the number of player arrests over the last five years, and Wazzu topped the list with 31.
Given Mike Leach’s track record with player discipline — drugs, assaulting women and theft are all considered grounds for immediate dismissal on this team — Wazzu’s No. 1 ranking on the list looks somewhat disturbing and makes it look as if there are a bunch of criminals running around in Pullman.
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But is there truly reason for concern?
According to ArrestNation.com’s numbers, 24 of the 31 incidents occurred after Leach was hired on Nov. 30, 2011.
– Danny O’Neil from 710ESPN Seattle thinks it’s “surprising, but not overall shocking” and says it’s not all Leach’s fault.
“Wazzu is going to be a team and a school that consistently has accepted guys and given them second chances,” O’Neil told KIRO Radio.
– Jeff Nusser from SB Nation’s Coug Center blog says Rosenberg’s methodology is flawed, and that the list isn’t necessarily fair because a) ArrestNation.com’s numbers lump arrests, citations and charges together, b) Wazzu is in small town Pullman, where local police might be more likely to make arrests for minor infractions, c) the numbers could vary from school to school based on how many arrests are actually reported by local news outlets. Meaning: Schools such as Cal or Tulane that less get media coverage in general could in theory have arrests that go unreported.
Even Rosenberg himself acknowledges that point:
Also, as the New York Times investigation into the alleged accusations against Jameis Winston at Florida State showed last fall, some police departments (hello Tallahassee) are more likely to close an eye to infractions than others.
Let’s take a closer look at the 23 arrests* that ArrestNation.com says have occurred at WSU since Leach took over as head coach in November 2011:
- Daniel Ekuale (Sept. 7, 2014): Ekuale and an unnamed 17-year-old player were arrested for frequenting a tavern.
- Theron West (Sept. 7, 2014): West was arrested for reckless driving.
- Drew Loftus (Feb 1, 2013 and July 31, 2014): The walk-on receiver’s 2014 arrest was for assault in the fourth degree. His 2013 arrest was for attempting to steal two bottles of tequila. He is no longer on the team.
- Ivan McLennan (June 1, 2014): McLennan was arrested for unlawful handling of weapons capable of producing bodily harm. He was pointing a non-lethal Airsoft gun at another student, according to the Spokesman-Review.
- Daquawn Brown (March 7, 2014 and Feb. 2, 2014): The March incident was on two counts of assault, according to the Spokesman-Review. He was subsequently dismissed from the team. Brown was a starting cornerback and the Cougars’ leading tackler in 2014.
- Austin Brown (March 7, 2014): Arrested on the same night as Daquawn Brown and charged with third-degree theft.
- Chester Su’a (Nov. 7, 2013, Nov 9, 2012): In 2013, Su’a was arrested for failing to appear in court after being charged with driving without a license. In 2012, Su’a was arrested for failing to appear at a hearing after being charged with a hit-and-run.
- Emmit Su’a-Kalio (Oct. 3, 2013): Arrested for second degree assault after he allegedly sucker punched a teammate in the locker room.
- Logan Mayes (May 16, 2013): Arrested for a hit-and-run.
- Toni Pole (May 12, 2013): Cited by police for giving a false name and birth date to police officers who responded to a noise complaint.
- Teondray Caldwell (April 28, 2013): Arrested on second degree assault and first degree burglary charges.
- Gabe Marks (Feb. 17, 2013): Arrested at a bar for fourth degree assault, second degree criminal trespass, being a minor intoxicated in public and frequenting a tavern as a minor.
- Leon Brooks (Jan. 27, 2013): Arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol
- Anthony Laurenzi (July 22, 2012): Arrested on third degree theft — he stole a pair of headphones from Walmart. Subsequently dismissed from the team.
- Travis Long (July 20, 2012): Arrested on a minor in possession of alcohol charge.
- Spencer Waseem (April 11, 2012): Cited on a charge of fourth degree misdemeanor assault after allegedly punching a man during an argument.
- Denzell Dotson (April 8, 2012): Arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol
- Sekope Kaufusi (Feb. 29, 2012): Arrested and charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Subsequently dismissed from team for violation of team rules.
- Zach Koepp (Feb. 12, 2012): Arrested and cited for obstructing a public servant. The long snapper was allegedly throwing rocks at at frat house. The police were called in and he ran from the cops but was arrested after he slipped on mud and hit his head on a metal grate.
- C.J. Mizell (Feb. 6, 2012): Arrested on charges of fourth degree assault. Subsequently dismissed from team, though his dismissal likely stemmed more from his problematic history than from this specific incident.
In summary, the 20 players have run afoul of the law during Leach’s tenure, but that list includes some pretty dumb college kid antics. Koepp was caught throwing rocks at a frat house. Toni Pole gave police false info when they responded to a noise complaint — dumb, but hardly malicious. McLennan stupidly waved a BB gun around. At least four players were arrested in incidents involving alcohol or underage drinking. One other (Kaufusi) had a weed problem.
In the more serious incidents, Leach ultimately kicked the offenders off the team. Laurenzi’s shoplifting violated Leach’s “no stealing” rule. He was dismissed despite the fact that he would likely have been a starter on the defensive line in 2013. Daquawn Brown led the team in tackles in 2014. He’s been dismissed too.
Of the 20 players who have racked up charges since 2012, only eight were signed by Leach’s coaching staff. So while it’s ultimately a coach’s responsibility to ensure his players toe the line, the character of a team is also highly dependent on what kind of kids a coach is bringing in. You’re bound to have a couple of lemons in every signing class. But different coaches have varying standards when it comes to recruiting.
For instance, the Miami Hurricanes of the mid-1980s quickly acquired a reputation as “Thug U” for the frequency by which their players appeared on police blotters. The infractions varied from shoplifting to assault, credit card fraud, weapons possession and possession of cocaine.
The conclusion: Leach’s Cougars have done a large number of some pretty stupid things. But when you examine the severity of their transgressions, it would be a stretch to call WSU in 2015 the most criminal team in college football.
Correction: An earlier version of this post said that Brett Kingma, a former WSU basketball player, was included in the 31 arrests at WSU over the last five years. Brett Kingma is listed as a football player on ArrestNation.com’s Washington State arrest list, but he actually played basketball at WSU and was not counted in Mike Rosenberg’s original 31 WSU football arrests. Kingma was arrested in October 2012 on suspicion of possession of marijuana.