Friday, April 13, 2012

Thoughts on the Derrick Nix situation

It's hard to have a wrong opinion on what Tom Izzo should have done with Derrick Nix following his drug arrest (later reduced to impaired driving).

Drew Sharp said that Nix should be kicked off the team. Joe Rexrode said that Izzo made the right call by reinstating Nix to the program with TBD punishments. While Sharp's opinion is valid, I agree with Rexrode. I'm a guy who believes in giving guys chances to redeem themselves, especially college kids.

But the only person whose opinion matters is Izzo. It's quite clear that he knows what is best for his program. This isn't a case of a guy letting his kids away with everything. Some guys have been able to move past troubles and flourish (Mateen Cleaves), while others didn't take advantage of their second-chances (Chris Allen, Korie Lucious).

As for the car, it was a completely legitimate question, especially given Nix's background. As frustrated as Izzo was by the issue, it is the duty journalists to look into that. As it turned out, there was nothing wrong. But there's a difference between journalists doing their jobs by looking into it and message board fans accusing Izzo's program of cheating. It was looked into, cleared up and that's the end of it.

Anyone who has been around Nix knows he's a great kid, a gentle giant who is not afraid to speak his mind and is full of jokes. During the 2010-11 season, I wrote a story about the relationship between him and Garrick Sherman. I called Nix's mom for the story. She was busy and told me to call back and another time, but never again answered my calls. After the story ran, Nix apologized to me for his mom not getting back to me. He also wanted to know how he could get the story (The State News is free in newsstands all around campus).

I'll never be surprised when a college kid gets in trouble with marijuana. Like Sharp, I've never smoked pot, but I'm not going to berate people who do. I know it's almost as common as alcohol in most places. Both have the potential to ruin lives, but that often comes down to the individual person. When Pat Robertson says it should be legal like alcohol, that should give you an idea of things.

But that doesn't change that Nix broke the law. He will get in trouble. When the War Drill is part of practice, I don't want to know what punishment from Izzo is. Nix will be worked. He will learn his lesson. He had been on the right track after getting in batter shape and having a solid junior season. This is a step back, but it could result in multiple steps forward.

Nix's first two seasons on the court were basically wasted because he couldn't get his weight in order. But that's what college is for. It's about growing, changing, improving. Nix has the skills the play professional basketball some day, it has always been about getting serious about priorities. I do believe Nix was serious with the tears streaming down his face at Thursday's press conference as he apologized to everyone, especially Izzo's son.

I agree with Izzo's view on role models. No one is perfect. The best role models are the ones who learn from their mistakes. I believe that is what will happen from Nix. Unless Izzo forbids it, I still expect Nix to be named a captain next season, and I also expect Nix to finally live up his potential on the court. Some people just need a wake-up call. This could finally be it for Nix.

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