In title chase, Dorsey has to play
By Geoff Calkins
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
It's been a busy year for Memphis forward Joey Dorsey, hasn't it?
On Oct. 14, he was arrested for driving with a suspended license.
On Oct. 18, Dorsey allegedly followed a female student, threatened her and poured a water bottle over her head.
On Feb. 4, according to a witness, Dorsey punched a customer at Club 152 on Beale Street.
On June 9, according to Beale Street landlord John Elkington, Dorsey "battered" a bouncer at the same club.
And Sunday morning, according to a police report, Dorsey may have been the instigator in the brawl on Beale that ended with the arrest of two Memphis players, Jeff Robinson and Shawn Taggart.
"Dorsey went behind the bar at 380 Beale at this time (the victim) asked the suspect to leave from behind the bar," the report said. "At this time suspect Dorsey jumped up on the bar and began throwing money to customers. (The victim) at this time jumped on the bar and asked suspect Dorsey to get down. Suspect Dorsey then pushed (the victim) off the bar and jumped down and began hitting (the victim)."
Makes you proud to be a Tiger, doesn't it? Dorsey on the bar, throwing money, like our very own Pacman Jones.
Then, apparently, hitting someone. The man likes hitting people way too much.
But if you think there's any chance Dorsey will be tossed off the Memphis basketball team, then you haven't seen the billboards around town.
There are 15 in all, a celebration of the glorious season to come. One says, simply: "That's Mr. Dorsey to You."
Dorsey is tough, see. The Tigers need that toughness if they want to compete for a national championship.
An actual post from a Memphis message board: "We are a national title contender, they can face the judge after the season is over."
Who cares if Dorsey is the sort of person who should be representing the university? There's a title to be won.
Former Nebraska coach Tom Osborne understands how this works better than most. In 1995, star tailback Lawrence Phillips was given probation for dragging his girlfriend down the stairs by her hair.
Osborne suspended Phillips during the regular season but brought him back in time for the national championship game. Phillips ran for 165 yards and two touchdowns as Nebraska rolled over Florida.
This is the essential trade-off of college sports. Even for a coach like Osborne, who had a golden-boy reputation to protect. Calipari has no such reputation. What's going to hold him back?
Dismissing Dorsey from the team wouldn't cause people outside the city to think any more of the University of Memphis. Keeping him around wouldn't cause people to think any less.
But Dorsey would be missed on the court. Which is why Calipari won't -- and, indeed, can't -- let him go.
Too much is riding on it. Too many season-tickets have been sold.
A marginal player like Simplice Njoya can be tossed for being difficult to coach. A significant player like Dorsey will survive anything short of a felony.
Calipari might suspend the guy for a stretch of time. He'll say the usual stuff. That he has to be firm and fair but, gee, young people make mistakes.
Never mind that, at 23, Dorsey is more than a year older than Grizzlies center Darko Milicic, who has already spent four years in the NBA. This is college sports we're talking about, where fans are so desperate to believe in the lies that the lies don't have to be particularly good.
The lie that Dorsey's a kid. The lie that players are student-athletes. The lie that winning isn't everything.
Winning is everything, especially when a team is as close to winning a title as the Tigers appear to be.
Oh, and by the way, Dorsey's most recent victim isn't expected to press charges.
Think he's seen the billboards, too?
To reach Geoff Calkins, call him at 529-2364 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org