Leave Judgment Of Bellamy At The Door
By Scott Rhymer
The easiest thing to do right now is to judge Mike Bellamy. It’s easy to cast Bellamy off at this point as a kid that is not going to make it at Clemson. And it’s just as easy to write off Bellamy’s antics since he arrived in Clemson as a sign of immaturity that he will grow out of.
Either side would be putting a lot of faith in what is going on inside Mike Bellamy’s head. At this point, that faith seems more like a stab in the dark than it does certainty.
As some have stated, Bellamy’s antics have indeed been a sign of immaturity. But there are plenty of immature football players that come in and out of football programs every year that don’t find the trouble that Bellamy has stepped into on a consistent basis. To write off all of this as immaturity is a disrespect to those athletes similar to a kid like Bellamy that make better decisions upon their arrival.
There is also no question that Bellamy has been a distraction off the field, even before he stepped onto campus. If you will recall, there were Facebook pictures of Bellamy with money in his hands that was posted over the summer that now seem like a foreboding of things to come. But Bellamy has been equally distracting on the field, dropping the football on the ground more times than he has made great plays, griping about playing time, and getting kicked out of Charlotte for (insert favorite rumor here).
I stood on the sideline in College Park watching Mike jaw with Maryland students as the first half was under way back in October. It was a strange sight, a player that had made no impact in the game being the center of attention to the Maryland student’s barbs. I have seen trouble many times in many forms. And I firmly believe that trouble does not find a man…but a man seeks out and finds trouble. It was no coincidence the Terrapin college nerds were jawing at Bellamy…as Mike brought attention to himself on that sideline that night to cause their wrath to fall upon him.
And that is similar to what seems to have happened all throughout his short time at Clemson. If Mike Bellamy were a cartoon character, the little black cloud of rain would seem to follow him around everywhere he went.
So it was be very easy for you, me, and his coaches to simply cast off Bellamy as a loose cannon that is not worth the time and energy it has taken to “babysit” him week to week. And I would not fault the coaches if they said enough is enough. Bellamy certainly has done enough to warrant serious consideration for permanent removal from the program.
But I think Clemson is the best place for Mike Bellamy. I think those close to Mike think Clemson is the best place for Mike Bellamy. I think our coaches feel they can mold Mike Bellamy into a good football player and, maybe more importantly, a good citizen.
My judge of character is usually spot on, but I realize I am stepping out on a limb here when I speak of Bellamy. All of the trails that Bellamy has left over the past year point to a train wreck waiting to happen.
But for some reason I think Bellamy has a chance to make it. Call it a hunch. A sixth sense. A premonition. And I say this not because I think Bellamy should be pandered to because of his “talent’. To be blunt, I thought he received too much playing time early in the season based on his inability to hold onto the football. I also think Bellamy will be role player next year if Andre Ellington stays healthy and won’t be a major impact at Clemson until 2013 at the earliest. So my belief in Mike Bellamy is not because I believe he holds the key to Clemson’s success in 2012. Quite the contrary.
I also realize that many of you will link this blog right back to me if Mike screws up in the future and blows his opportunity at Clemson or if Mike decides to transfer to another school.
Bellamy needs to go home and get an earful from those that care the most about him. He needs to step back and drink a glass of humility. He needs to come back after the Orange Bowl and apologize to his teammates for the distractions that he has caused them throughout the year.
And then he needs to hit the weight room, add some bulk, and get ready to terrorize Clemson’s defense during spring practices. And he needs to learn to hold onto the football and accept his role as the understudy to Andre Ellington.
What Mike Bellamy does not need, at least right now, is judgment. He doesn’t need you to cast him off. And he does not need you empathizing with his mistakes and downplaying them as simple lack of maturity. He needs a group of people (family, coaches, teammates, fans) that hold him accountable for what he is doing, and what he is not doing. He needs tough love, which seems to be exactly what Dabo Swinney is giving him.
Going home instead of South Florida for the bowl game is a start. If Mike Bellamy is going to make it at Clemson (or anywhere for that matter), the moment to look in the mirror is right now and only he can make a decision to take the right path forward.
Leave your judgment at the door. But it is time for Mike to step into reality.
Count me as one guy who thinks he will. But stay tuned.
Scott Rhymer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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