Former Auburn running back Michael Dyer is looking for a new home -- and some say Louisville is on his list of potential landing spots.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – No guns. No drugs. No, just kidding.
Before Charlie Strong started drawing formations on the grease-boards at the University of Louisville football complex, he hung something else on the walls – his core values.
You know the list better than you know the names of the teams in the American Athletic Conference:
2. Treat Women with RESPECT.
3. NO DRUGS.
4. NO STEALING.
5. NO GUNS.
Basic principles of Good Citizenship 101. The stuff a coach has to sell to build his program before he can sell bowl games, conference championships and things football fans actually worry about.
Now the story is percolating that 40 percent of those values might be negotiable. Strong and the Cardinals are reportedly one of several leading contenders to be the next home for Michael Dyer, a serial knucklehead and talented halfback who has passed in and out of Auburn and Arkansas State.
Has U of L actually offered a scholarship? There is no confirmation of that. There is no mention of Dyer in the Cards' on-line edition of its 2013 football media guide.
Strong will be asked about Dyer Tuesday during AAC Football Media Day in Newport, R. I. If Dyer is indeed a guy that has the U of L coaching staff hyperventilating, the follow-up questions are obvious:
What happened to No Guns and No Drugs?
Are those values optional when you've got the chance to add a guy who has run for more than 2,300 yards during two seasons in the Southeastern Conference and you've got several running backs recovering from serious knee injuries?
The Give Michael Dyer A Chance Society surged into overdrive last week with a story from Grantland.com, a national website that specializes in apologetic love letters to troubled athletes. Dyer was buffed-up and puffed-up, upgraded from a guy surrounded by serious issues to a guy trying to repair his wounded brand. Yes, brand -- their word, not mine.
Their spin: Michael Dyer has never been convicted of anything worse than speeding. Dyer grew up in difficult circumstances. He has been used by the system. Dyer has changed. Michael Dyer deserves another chance.
Anybody unwilling to give him that chance is a cold-hearted grouch out of touch with the gritty challenges faced by college-aged African-American athletes. Kleenex optional.
Know this: Speeding is the harshest offense on Dyer's record. He grew up in tough conditions in Little Rock, Ark.
I'll stop agreeing there. Dyer had the opportunity to use the system as thoroughly as the system has used him. The way that Cam Newton or Nick Fairley or other former teammates used it at Auburn on their way to NFL careers and lucrative contracts.
I can't speak to whether Dyer has changed – and neither can anybody else who hasn't been with him on this odyssey.
Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. At U of L, during the pre-Strong days, you can rewind the videos of linebackers Nate Harris (major success) and Willie Williams (spectacular failure) for details. Strong took Adrian Bushell after Florida pointed him toward the door. No problems.
What's different here is that if Dyer enrolls at Louisville, he would be receiving his third chance after washing out at two other programs.
You could certainly argue that when you examine the issues that Dyer has encountered along the way to needing Louisville more than Louisville needs him.
Those issues are on the walls in the U of L meeting rooms – guns and drugs.
Check the record from the Alabama Department of Corrections. You'll discover that Antonio Merquis Goodwin is currently an inmate at the Kirby Correctional Facility outside Montgomery. Goodwin is scheduled to be there until May 26, 2027 as he serves the remainder of a 15-year sentence.
Goodwin was convicted of armed robbery. The armed part involved a gun owned by Michael Dyer. It also included three other former Auburn players, all serving shorter sentences.
Dyer testified in that trial. Testified that he was asked to participate in the crime but refused. Testified that he tried to talk Goodwin out of committing the crime. And Dyer also testified to his use of synthetic marijuana, which he now says he has given up.
That was at Auburn, a school that Dyer left voluntarily after he was suspended for a violation of team rules.
This is what happened at Arkansas State – an encounter with an Arkansas state police officer. Dyer was stopped for speeding. The officer spotted his gun. He also reportedly spotted marijuana. The officer scattered the marijuana on the highway. He recognized Dyer and tried to give him a break, at one point turning off the video camera in the cruiser as he questioned the player.
It didn't work – for Dyer or the officer. Dyer was asked to leave Arkansas State and the state police later dismissed the officer.
Most of college football had not heard from Dyer again until last week when the spin machine at the national website started the industrial-strength cleansing of Dyer's image.
"His past sins were pretty minor," it was written. "Sometimes they weren't even sins."
Who could question that?
Now Michael Dyer could be on his way to Louisville.
Charlie Strong will likely win the public relations campaign if he brings Michael Dyer to Louisville. The coach is that popular. His record with wayward players has been solid. He fixed the mess he inherited from Steve Kragthorpe.
And Strong beat Florida, Kentucky and nine other teams last season. He turned down the job at Tennessee and has a chance to chase a national championship this season. Michael Dyer could be the missing piece.
But those signs in the Louisville football complex? They'll need to be reworked.