Two men hold Joe Mixon’s fate in their hands. Greg Mashburn and Bob Stoops. The district attorney and the football coach.
First move is Mashburn’s. The D.A. has three primary options in the case of Mixon allegedly hitting an OU coed Friday morning after the bars closed on Campus Corner: 1) Aggravated assault and battery, a felony; 2) Misdemeanor assault and battery, or disorderly conduct; 3) no charges. Mixon’s own attorney has admitted that the OU tailback “instinctually defended himself” against the 20-year-old woman.
If Mashburn files a felony charge, Stoops has been relieved of his decision-making. There is nothing else to talk about. If the district attorney believes he can make an aggravated assault case against Mixon, Stoops has no wiggle room. Not in this year of Franklin Shannon’s sexual assault allegation and Dorial Green-Beckham’s transfer from Missouri. Mixon is off the team.
But if Mashburn opts for a misdemeanor or no charge, then Stoops has options. Everything from dismissal to running stadium steps and anything in between. Because if Mashburn chooses a lesser or no charge, he’s basically agreeing with Mixon lawyer Kevin Finlay that there were extenuating circumstances.
Did the woman call Mixon the magic word? Did she attack him? Did she spit on him? If she’s guilty of two or three of those indiscretions, is Mixon less culpable? The magic word changes the landscape in America, no matter how much you wish it didn’t. Does that make Mixon a little more sympathetic in this no-win story? Ask a dozen people, you’ll get half a dozen different answers.
Most of us are squeamish, at best, over the notion of mercy for a 215-pound tailback who might have punched a 130-pound woman, no matter how intoxicated either of them might have been or what actions led to the assault.
It’s hard to argue with those who declare it’s never OK to hit a woman. But most of us believe in some concept of mercy. Most of us believe that second chances are the hallmark of a civilized society.
So if Stoops is given options, could he send Mixon on the Ryan Broyles route?
Broyles, remember, was not always the charming, affable good citizen who became the NCAA record-holder for pass receptions.
Broyles was often in trouble as a Norman High School student; he was caught stealing gas and was suspended for the 2007 season as an OU freshman. Broyles was told that if he kept his nose clean, he could restart his OU career in 2008. Broyles made the most of the offer.
Stoops could suspend Mixon for the 2014 season and offer the same deal.
Could Stoops take the public-relations hit and keep Mixon on the roster?
Sure. It wouldn’t be particularly pleasant. All kinds of people on and off campus would want to know how stealing gas and busting a coed’s face are anywhere near equal. Stoops would be asked repeatedly why his roster is increasingly populated with players alleged to have been violent with women. It’s quite possible that even if Stoops’ heart leans toward grace, his head could say screw it, it’s not worth it. The program is bigger than any individual.