Auburn’s Duke Williams missed Friday’s practice for “personal reasons,” according to Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee. Rumors hit the internet earlier in the week about a possible altercation involving Williams and members of the Auburn basketball team––one name you’d know very well. Although this rumor hasn’t been confirmed (g), Duke’s history with off-the-field issues plus his unexplained, undefined absence from the team in the first week of fall camp equals trouble.Williams sat out the Tigers’ bowl game last season for disciplinary reasons. In May Williams took to Twitter, insinuating that he was considering leaving Auburn. Shortly after, Auburn wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig met with Williams and sent out a PR tweet to the orange and blue cult, the caption reading “Everything Gucci!”
Somewhere in the mix, Auburn head coach Gustav Mazloon indicated that the Auburn star was on “a very short leash.” Apparently the leash was long enough for him to put up hands with other athletes on campus, but too short to reach the practice field.
One thing is for sure, Williams will be dressed out when the Tigers take the field against Louisville, and any opposing fan who thinks otherwise is kidding yourself. Simply put, if Duke publicly joined ISIS and voiced threats against our national security, the Auburn PR machine would scramble to make sure ole #1 would be able to hit Louisville with square-ins and slants.
And that’s fine. Much of Duke’s prowess last season came because opposing defenses had to honor the deep threat that freaky Sammie Coates posed on every play.
But the point is, as hilarious as it was that the AU Athletic Department put up giant pictures of toilet paper on the backside of their new jumbotron (and then quickly yanked them down when everybody laughed!), it’s even funnier watching a high school coach like Mazloon try to figure out how to deal with the star he needs…a player who can and will divide the team with divisive behavior.
Sending Williams packing will send a message to the Tiger team…”We can win without this bad apple ruining the whole batch.” Often a bold move like this will unite a team to fight harder. But what will likely happen is, Duke will be catered to and receive special treatment, underscoring the atmosphere of double-standards that star athletes have enjoyed for years in Lee County.
Lashlee said Duke’s status with the team is “day-to-day,” and would not put a definite timetable on when he would return. ITK interpretation:
“Duke told me he’d practice when he wanted to, and that we need him more than he needs us. So, that’s what we’re going to do.”
At the time of this post, whispers were rampant that Duke was also absent from Saturday’s practice. If so, this is a development worth watching.