Nothing warms the heart like the return of the Florida State football team to national criminal prominence. For years, the 'Noles were the backbone of the sports-crime world: every time you heard the words "college football" and "arrest" together it was very likely to be a story about, on some level, FSU.
Maybe it was Peter Warrick getting chased down from behind on foot by a female police officer, or maybe it was Laveranues Coles "shopping" for complimentary sporting goods, or Sebastian Janikowski sticking his bald, vodka-soaked Polish head where it didn't belong.
Whatever it was, you could count on FSU to keep things interesting. The Seminoles had an uncanny ability to pick out the biggest knuckleheads in every recruiting class, and each season help them steam past a series of felony arrests en route to a top-five-ranked, nationally contending season.
Yes, the one constant throughout was that Florida State always had a hell of a football team. They sent a lot of guys to jail, but they also sent a lot of guys to the NFL. Year after year they produced players like Warrick Dunn and Deion Sanders. That just isn't the case anymore. Which makes the school's recent return to the criminal limelight especially shameful — hell, anyone can recruit losing football players who behave themselves. If you're recruiting criminals and still not winning, you must have something seriously wrong with your program.
Anyway, Florida State's latest escapade caps a remarkable run in which virtually all of the team's wide receivers have been suspended or dismissed for behavior reasons. Richard Goodman was just slapped with an aggravated-battery charge stemming from a November 2008 bar fight between members of the football team and the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity. Apparently Goodman picked up a chair and threw it during the fight. As he did, an innocent female bystander turned around and caught it with her face, breaking several bones in the process.
Two other wide receivers — Cameron Wade and Bert Reed — were also involved in that fight and had been suspended previously. So that's three down. Preston Parker, Florida State's 2007 MVP, was kicked off the team in February after a DUI that also involved a charge for carrying an unregistered gun (his third arrest since the fall of 2006). In April, senior Rod Owens was suspended indefinitely thanks to a DUI. Another wideout, Corey Surrency, has been in trouble (and suspended) in the past, but lost an appeal to the NCAA seeking another year of eligibility. And Taiwan Easterling — who was suspended for a portion of last season after the fraternity brawl — ruptured an Achilles during spring practices.
That leaves senior wide receiver Louis Givens and a handful of underclassmen. Looks like there's gonna be a lot of running plays in Tallahassee next year. Give Goodman 60 points for the chair toss, and let's see if FSU can hold on to its one experienced pass catcher.
Weird case in Miami — Dolphins tackle Randy Starks has been accused of aggravated battery, with authorities claiming that he drove his truck into a police officer.
The details on this one are so strange and so contradictory depending on the source that it's tough to tell what really happened. Here's the story as we know it: Starks was driving a Freightliner semi-tractor (hey, he's a big guy) through heavy traffic with nine (or 13, say police) passengers, including a girl on his lap (or not, says Starks), when a traffic cop knocked on his door and asked him to pull over. The police claim Starks intentionally accelerated and pinned the officer against another car. Starks says that it's profiling: he never touched the cop and was only cited because he was in a big vehicle with a lot of black people in it.
The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. So no points here until there are more facts.
Matt Taibbi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.