On Fulmer’s punishment of Tennessee quarterback Jim Bob Cooter

Okay, let’s get this out of the way. Backup backup backup quarterback Jim Bob Cooter embarassed the team this past weekend when he was arrested and charged with driving under the influence.

So how should he be punished? No more and no less than projected starting linebacker Marvin Mitchell, who was arrested for disorderly conduct a little more than a month ago. There is a perception that Coach Fulmer’s discipline is inversely proportionate to a player’s importance to the team.

But Fulmer seems to have a consistent and progressive discipline system — if you screw up once, you get a public tongue-lashing, a suspension, and some other “internal” discipline.” Multiple offenses result in increased punishment up to and including dismissal from the team. That’s why Mitchell was suspended and defensive tackle Raymond Henderson, who had received one or two warnings prior to making an inappropriate comment to an underage girl last month, was sent packing.

Fulmer needs to treat starters and non-starters similarly, and this equity should be applied in both directions. In other words, starters should get the same treatment as non-starters, and non-starters should get the same treatment as starters. So the best thing to do is to give Cooter the same treatment as Mitchell. If instead Fulmer puts his foot up Jim Bob’s rear end and sends him through the uprights, he’ll only reinforce the perception that at Tennessee, discipline is for pine-riders.

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