Adam Jude of the Seattle Times has just broken the story, writing here that according to multiple sources Washington’s star tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins will not play in Saturday’s season opener against Boise State in the new Husky Stadium. The one game suspension comes as a result of ASJ’s off-season DUI, which took place on the night of March 9th. ASJ was suspended from the team shortly after the incident and spent the off-season working his way back on to the team and dealing with the legal ramifications of his crime. He rejoined the team in time for Fall Camp to begin early this month.
It has long been debated by Husky writers and fans whether or not Coach Sarkisian would choose, or should choose, to suspend ASJ for the hugely important opener. In April I wrote a post stating that ASJ should be suspended for one game, but within that piece I also stated that I felt it was unlikely to actually happen.
Given that Sark spent the past few months making it very clear that in his opinion the DUI was a one-time mistake from an otherwise exemplary student athlete, combined with a lack of previous disciplinary or legal issues in ASJ’s past and the vast importance of this game for Sark’s personal future as head coach at Washington, I was confident that Seferian-Jenkins would not be suspended. ASJ breaking his pinkie in early August also seemed to cloud the issue further, as his medical status for the game was unclear enough that a suspension seemed as if it wouldn’t necessarily be needed to keep him off the field. Technically, ASJ was never medically cleared for the contest, though he stated multiple times that he felt he would be physically able to play.
Apparently I was wrong to doubt Sark’s willingness to discipline a star player. Jude even writes that according to one of his sources, the original plan was a two-game suspension, but that ASJ’s strong effort to make up for his mistake led him to reduce the suspension to a single contest.
Because of this decision, Washington will not be as good of a football team against Boise State. ASJ is a nightmare for defenders, and only Kasen Williams was a more productive Husky pass-catcher in 2012. But it’s the right call. In a college football world in which it has grown more and more common to let star players go unpunished in order to improve on-field performance, I truly believe that Sark’s willingness to show a real backbone, to show his players that no one is too talented to be disciplined for a dangerous, stupid mistake, will be more valuable for this program than a single night of ASJ’s pass-catching.
More on this story as more information becomes available.