In many ways, the Arizona Wildcats have never had a player like Ka’Deem Carey.
A consensus All-American. The nation’s leading rusher. A Heisman Trophy candidate.
But in many other ways, the Arizona Wildcats — and every other school across the nation — have had plenty of players like Ka’Deem Carey.
Useful on the field. Disasters off it.
And if a school is incapable of keeping its star player away from trouble and out of the headlines, it may be time to part ways.
On its own, Carey getting kicked out of a UA basketball game is a rather minor incident. Getting into a shouting match with event staff and police is not something to be proud of, and busting out the “Get the **** out of my face…Do you know who I am? I’m an All-American” card is as laughable as it is pathetic.
A dumb incident, sure, but there are worse things Carey could have done. Like, you know, face charges due to a domestic violence incident.
One mistake is just that, a mistake. Two mistakes, especially within months of each other, equal a trend.
Now of course, these could just be standard issues for a pampered athlete who is just 20 years old and learning how to be a man. He’s a recognizable face, and there are folks who would love nothing more than to knock him down a peg or two.
That doesn’t mean he has to let them.
Part of being a star athlete — especially on a college campus — is growing up quicker than your peers. You must commit to your sports as well as your studies, and there is a level of temptation just not afforded to goofy journalism majors.
Two years into his Arizona career, Carey seems to lack an understanding of this.
Now, maybe head coach Rich Rodriguez can help his star turn things around.
By all accounts, Carey was not really a “bad guy” before this offseason, and it could be he just needs to be humbled a bit. One would think this disaster of an offseason should do it.
However, one would also think that knowing he’s already in hot water due to the domestic violence incident, Carey would make sure to be on his best behavior until it is all cleared up.
Carey didn’t think, messed up, and now Rodriguez has a decision to make.
Entering his second year guiding the football program, the coach needs to weigh winning vs. character. More often than not, a player of Carey’s caliber gets the benefit of the doubt, as coaches who want to keep their jobs want to win, and having a player like that helps that cause.
But things might be different for Rich Rod, who has a solid amount of cache after guiding the Wildcats to a surprising season in Year 1 and has some leeway with regards to how much he must win and how soon he must do it.
Does the coach have enough job security to where he can sacrifice a few wins next season if it’s in the best interests of the program long-term?
At most, Carey is going to wear Wildcat Red, Blue and Copper just one more season. Arizona may build on the momentum started last season and reach another bowl game, but odds are it will not be the Rose Bowl or any other high-level matchup. If the goal is to be great — and that is the goal — it’s probably not going to happen next season, Carey or no Carey.
Back in December after a couple of his players got in a fight on the sidelines at the Gildan New Mexico Bowl, Rodriguez told Arizona Sports 620 it was “out of character” for both Tevin Hood and Cody Ippolito, but added the players were “going to deal with Coach Rod” after the winter break.
Unfortunately, recent events would indicate Carey’s troubles may be part of his character, but it’s up to Rodriguez, who is a good coach, to determine whether or not Carey is an immature kid or a player who will continue to make the headlines.
If it’s the former, keep him around. If it’s the latter, bid him adieu.
Because no matter how talented the running back is, there should be no room for someone like that on Arizona’s roster.