It had all the earmarks of the next big college football scandal. Alas, what initially appeared to be a potentially program-crippling drug epidemic within the TCU football team may turn out to be on the level of mere regular college shenanigans.
Taking a page out of Jose Canseco's book (Remember Canseco estimating that 85 percent of all big leaguers are on some sort of steroid?), it appears TCU linebacker Tanner Brock may have drastically overestimated the number of Horned Frog football players who would have failed a team drug test administered on National Signing Day a couple weeks ago.
As it turns out, Brock's 80 percent estimate was a tad off. Instead, according to a report in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, a mere five TCU football players tested positive for marijuana and failed the February 1 drug test initiated by head coach Gary Patterson. Another 11 had "trace amounts within the margin of error," according to the report. Eighty-six players were clear.
If you're keeping score at home (I'll admit it, I was), that's less than five percent of the players with a true fail of the test. That's MUCH less than 80 percent. Hell, even adding in the eleven with amounts inside the margin for error, that only brings the total to 16 players, which is less than 20 percent of the team, an amount I would argue is still less than most normal colleges or universities. (I'll leave the moral argument of a Christian-based school being held to a standard of a "normal college" to someone else.)
Additionally, after having scary buzz words like cocaine, ecstasy, and prescription drugs thrown around, it turns out that marijuana was the only drug detected in the failed tests.
So go figure, a stoner football player had a hard time counting the number of his teammates that are recreational drug users. Not all that surprising.
So that's the good news for TCU, the magnitude of this story from a drug usage standpoint is very manageable and really not at all shocking.
Now for the bad news:
First, the drug tests for the Horned Frog players was ordered by Patterson after a recruit complained of drug use by players and turned down the Horned Frogs' scholarship offer, sources have said. Now caveat this whole thing with the fact that the recruit may have been extremely sheltered, but a player of any demographic background complaining about drug use on your team shouldn't be taken lightly. Patterson clearly agrees, hence the tests.
Second and more critical is the issue of players dealing drugs. It's one thing if a handful of guys are toking up at parties after home games. It's another thing entirely if you have four guys who are hubs in the TCU underground weed-distribution network. Twenty percent of your team using drugs is a much smaller problem than three percent of your team dealing drugs. More than anything, that's just a legal reality.
A former player corroborated the smaller number of players using drugs, saying that the numbers quoted in the affidavits were exaggerated.
"There was definitely a small group of guys using weed but nothing more than that," he said. "I think weed in general is prevalent on college campuses. A lot of students look at it just like alcohol."
Unfortunately for the players involved, the police don't view marijuana the same as alcohol. Especially when you're selling it. The good news is that the dealing of drugs is definitely still a big enough scandal to keep TCU's newly found "big time college football program" status.
They're not giving that back any time soon.
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