“Justice knows no gender bias,” Finlay said, “and we do not believe that Joe’s actions were criminal in nature.”
A court will ultimately decide guilt and innocence, and under the law, a person can react with like force. Someone uses their hands against you, you can use your hands to defend yourself. Someone pushes you with their hands, you can punch them with your fist, but that doesn’t make you a good person.
And when the person punched is a woman and the person punching is a man, it strikes a nerve.
So, Joe Castiglione and Bob Stoops will act.
They are already facing lots of questions about their football team’s tolerance of violence against women. Even though a Title IX investigation determined that Frank Shannon should be suspended for a year after being accused of sexual assaulting a female student, the linebacker is still taking first-team reps in practice as the case is appealed. Even though a Columbia, Mo., police report alleged that Dorial Green-Beckham pushed a woman down a flight of stairs while still at Missouri, the Sooners have added the receiver to their roster.
But even if Shannon and Green-Beckham had squeaky clean records, Castiglione and Stoops would act in Mixon’s case.
“I’m sensitive to all those issues,” Stoops said when asked about violence against women during ESPN’s “car wash” interviews earlier this summer. “I think all coaches are. In fact, my wife and I sponsor quite a few things in the Oklahoma area in regards to domestic issues, in particular violence against women.”
The coach and his boss have to be mindful of what could happen if Mixon remains part of the team. If the running back becomes the kind of superstar he’s projected to be, part of his narrative will always be this incident. Every national television broadcast of every game he plays will mention it. And what if that video becomes public, as it should? The clip of Mixon slugging Molitor could be shown repeatedly.
What if the kicker to the episode is “and he served no suspension”?
Castiglione and Stoops want no part of that. They aren’t averse to second chances, but they aren’t willing to turn a blind eye to conduct detrimental to the program either. They will punish Joe Mixon.
In a case that has been difficult to pin down, this much is sure.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.