Let's get this out of the way: No, I don't think Nebraska should fire Keith Williams following his arrest early Sunday morning on suspicion of DUI after an accident in Lincoln.
In fact, I hope Nebraska doesn't fire Williams.
And please, save me your outrage. Yes, I understand how terrible Williams' offense was. Driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious issue, no matter how you slice it. Add in the fact that Williams has two prior convictions, and it makes it even worse. Should have learned. Pattern of bad decisions. Got it, and agree 100 percent.
There's simply no excuse for his behavior, and subsequent horrible decisions. We can all be thankful that no one was seriously injured. End of story.
It's also a huge blow to a Nebraska program that seems to be moving swiftly in the right direction when it comes to recruiting, especially at the wide receiver position. I mean heck, the number one overall WR prospect in the 2017 class, Joseph Lewis, was in town on an unofficial visit when Williams was arrested. It can't really get a whole lot worse than that.
So, on top of the personal issues for Williams, Nebraska is undeniably on the hook as well. Not the kind of distraction you want heading into two-a-day practices this week, of which Williams will miss at least the first day, as he remains incarcerated pending a court appearance Monday.
But before you're quick to call for Mike Riley or Shawn Eichorst to drop the hammer on Williams and show him the door, let me suggest an alternative solution.
Consider this - according to several Nebraska wide receivers I spoke with this fall, one of the things that makes Williams so great is he's always thinking about wideout play. Whether it's 6 A.M. or midnight, the game is always on his mind. For someone that seems to have a substance abuse issue at least at some level, what would happen if you simply pull the rug out from under him? Is it really in his best interest to leave him out in the cold on the doorstep of the season? It's at least something to consider.
So, instead of simply saying goodbye to Williams, I'd start by making him meet face to face with every single player he coaches at Nebraska, and apologize for his lack in judgment and subsequent mistakes. Answer any questions they have openly and honestly, and explain to them his plan to get help. This can't be a "sweep it under the rug" type problem. Williams, along with Riley's guidance, needs to be proactive.
Then, I'd have him do the the same thing with every single player he's recruiting to Nebraska, whether they've committed or not. Chances are, there will be at least one who decides he's no longer interested. At that's one too many.
There's obviously going to be some sort of internal discipline and penalty as well. Although I haven't read Williams' contract personally, its nearly a slam dunk he could be immediately terminated following an arrest and conviction without any issue. Certainly, alcohol counseling of some sort is guaranteed to be a part of Williams' future. Get him whatever help he needs. I won't pretend to know the level or extent of his issues, and frankly don't need to. I'm confident Riley and Eichorst will find the appropriate solution.
The other consideration for not firing Williams is an ugly reality of major sports in America. Like it or not, Williams is one of the best in the business, and if Nebraska were to cut him loose, somebody else would decide to look the other way and scoop him up. It's not something that's pretty or just, but it is reality.
While this really shouldn't be a consideration on whether to keep Williams or not, it will be. It has to be. Is Nebraska better off trying to pick him up and help him get things sorted out, or have to coach and recruit against him while he potentially makes the same poor decisions? Again, it's at least something to consider.
I don't know what the future holds for Keith Williams at Nebraska. But if it were me, I'd make sure to give it plenty of thought before simply showing him out.
NOTE: Mike Riley spoke to reporters following Nebraska's practice Monday morning, and said "...there will be consequences" for Williams, but he's not ready to talk about them yet. Riley had yet to speak to Williams personally at the time, and was still collecting facts.
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