What To Do With Darius Ashley?

06/21/2011 03:12 PM

Darius Ashley just made Charlie Strong’s second summer as Louisville’s head coach a little bit tougher.
Ashley, a 5-foot-8, 186-pound junior, is the most experienced player on what by far is the most inexperienced position (cornerback) on the U of L roster. And Ashley put his Cardinal future in jeopardy over the weekend with his second DUI arrest in seven months.
U of L spokesman Rocco Gasparro told C.L. Brown of the Courier-Journal that Strong was aware of the arrest but had no immediate comment.
This is the second straight offseason that Strong has dealt with disciplinary issues with a projected starting cornerback. Last June, Johnny Patrick was arrested on a misdemeanor assault charge. He would eventually plead guilty to a reduced charge of harassment with physical contact.
The Patrick story wound up with a happy ending. He played in all 13 games for a Cardinal team that went to a bowl game for the first time since 2006 and was selected in the third round of the NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints.
Ashley, who ended spring practice as a starter, might not be as fortunate. The U of L coaching staff was hoping that this was the year that the light came on for Ashley, who arrived as highly-touted running back before transitioning to cornerback last year.
I’m a big believer in second chances. Lord knows I’ve had my share. But Ashley was already given a second chance following his first DUI arrest last December. And multiple DUI’s usually signals the end of the road. Former UK basketball player Anthony Epps resigned from his head coaching position at Marion County last week after getting his second DUI in a year.
So now Strong has a dilemma. Last year’s starters, Patrick and Bobby Burns, are gone. The starting corner opposite Ashley at the end of the spring, Anthony Conner, is coming off a torn ACL. Depth was so thin in the spring that Ashley’s listed backup was starting safety Mike Evans. Minus Ashley, Strong would likely have to rely on true freshmen to fill out his rotation.
I don’t know what to make of Strong’s lack of an immediate public comment regarding Ashley. I also don’t know much about Darius Ashley personally or have any insight into what kind of relationship he has with Strong. In the court of public and popular opinion, though, Ashley would be dismissed from the team.
At the very least, Ashley should be suspended for the 2011 season and allowed a chance to return as a senior in 2012 provided he meets some very stringent off-the-field requirements (counseling/rehab; speaking to young people about the dangers of drinking and driving). And that result would still have a lot of folks saying he got off easy.
Decisions like these are why guys like Charlie Strong gets paid the big bucks.

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