Derek’s Downfield Diary – Josh Caldwell leaves football team

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With the football program not giving too much information, one can only speculate why stud running back Josh Caldwell was dismissed from the team late in the season.

Or wait, was it mutually agreed upon? No, it was a mutual dismissal, according to head coach Matt Williamson, whatever that means. Either way, Caldwell, who was recruited by former coach Jerry Partridge, and Williamson both have made contradicting comments when it comes to what actually happened.

What could possibly warrant a reason for his dismissal?  Why would a team part ways with a player who led the MIAA conference in rushing last year and was averaging 120 yards a game through the first six games this year?

Caldwell says it wasn’t his choice to leave and that he never wanted to leave the team. Williamson says it actually was his choice to leave. Williamson also had this to say.

“Josh wasn’t meeting our expectations that we have as team.”

How does your best player not meet the team’s expectations?

Caldwell had been tearing it up on the ground for Western this season. He was second in the conference with 856 rushing yards on 138 attempts and had eight touchdowns as well.

So why is he gone? He didn’t break any team rules, said Williamson in a carefully worded statement:

“As for breaking any rules, no, Caldwell did not break any rules in our policy manual,” Williamson said.

Well, according to rumors flying around campus, Caldwell did break NCAA rules and sent highlight tapes to other universities and was looking to transfer at the end of the semester.

The team rules say nothing about sending tapes, but clearly such an action would violate the spirit of those general team guidelines. And, the NCAA forbids players from contacting other teams without the prior permission from the current school.

According to the NCAA rulebook, “A student-athlete who wants to transfer must receive written permission from his or her athletics director before contacting another school. To transfer, the student-athlete must be accepted through the new school’s admission process. The new school may or may not match financial aid offered by the student-athlete’s original school. Student-athletes who transfer must sit out of competition for one year, although many student-athletes qualify for exceptions allowing them to begin competing immediately.”

What this means is that Caldwell, who — keep in mind — is a junior, may not have been eligible to play his senior year even if he transferred.

What Caldwell might have done was not alerting athletic director Josh Looney that he was doing so. Breaking these rules results in being banned from the NCAA.

Remember, this is pure speculation based on rumors that Caldwell sent tapes, but Williamson did admit to at least hearing that he did so when asked him about the rumors.

When asked if Caldwell sent them out, Williamson said yes at first, but soon backtracked and asked where the Griffon News had heard that. After hearing about others who had heard the rumors, he then re-stated his answer.

“Yeah, I heard he sent tapes, too, but I’m not 100 percent on that,” Williamson said. “I don’t want to be called a liar.”

Caldwell did not respond to an inquiry about the existence of the tapes.

This past Saturday, Nov. 4, Missouri Western football racked up 341 yards of rushing, averaging 5.7 yards a carry, against Emporia State who had given up less than 170 rushing yards/game prior to this contest.  The point here is that Western’s ground attack, which leads the conference with 227 yards rushing per game, didn’t seem to miss a beat without Caldwell. In short, we either have a great offensive line, a deep stable of running backs, or both. Regardless, Caldwell’s departure may not be as important as it would be on other teams and if he was causing turmoil/morale problems, the team may be better in the long run and perhaps even in the short run.

Again, only pure speculation is possible as the football team, mainly Williamson, have been very tight-lipped about the whole situation.

What could possibly be the case is that first-year coach Williamson and first-year athletic director Josh Looney don’t want word getting out that a player like Caldwell wanted to leave the team, as that would reflect very poorly on them and the program in general. It seems they took the high road and agreed to call Caldwell’s departure from the team a mutual agreement, keeping their reputation intact and allowing Caldwell to not be banned from the NCAA.