By now, the precipitous decline of top collegiate offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil on the opening night of the NFL Draft if the stuff of legend. From the surprising release of a drastic drug smoking video to text messages with Ole Miss coaches detailing payments for Tunsil’s mother, the erstwhile potential top pick in the draft gave NFL teams ample reasons to back away from selecting the massive, athletic lineman.
For Tunsil’s former high school coach, the entire episode was a catastrophe unfolding before him, first making him enraged with whoever hacked Tunsil’s Twitter account, then furious at Tunsil himself. According to the Florida Times-Union, Columbia head football coach Brian Allen is now determined to connect with Tunsil and give him what the coach is sure he needs: A little bit of tough love.
“I’m not going to tell [Tunsil] what he wants to hear, but what he needs to hear,” Allen told the Times-Union. “He’s a great person that made a big-time mistake and he will be better because of it. Everybody makes mistakes, but how you respond from it defines you. I don’t hold back. [Tunsil] can be mad at me for what I’m going to tell him or he can love me to death for saying it, I don’t care. But that conversation is happening. He needs to trim his circle of people, make it small because any of them being in this same situation doesn’t have them on ESPN and the talk of social media. But Laremy being in it, it gets way blown up.
“I have to be firm [with Tunsil]. I know the kid is extremely disappointed in himself and all the emotions that come with it. But at the same time, he’s not going to bury his head in the dirt. He didn’t have a bad urine sample. He’s not going to be in the NFL drug program because of a bad decision he made two years ago, or however old that video is.”
Allen was watching the draft with many of his players and their parents on Thursday in a celebration of Tunsil’s career when the entire episode unfolded. The Times-Union reported Tunsil’s former coach was so upset with everything that unfolded that he physically left the Columbia field house, too angry to have his emotions be seen in front of those connected with his program.
There was one benefit from Tunsil’s misfortunate for Allen’s new charges: They got to see precisely what they want to avoid themselves as they all move forward in life and football.
“Laremy wasn’t that guy [in the video] in high school. His Mom was strict with him and he was respectful,” Allen told the Times-Union. “My kids on the football team are in awe and shock of what happened. They’re figuring out it’s a major learning experience of what they can’t do. I have no doubt [Tunsil] will listen to me. But listening and doing are two different things. What he does from there is up to him.”