Figuring Jeremiah Taleni’s Deal…

There was a question in the comments yesterday that questioned whether Taleni’s dismissal from the team was Pat Narduzzi’s doing or not. In most cases it is the HC’s  choice unless the Chancellor or the Pitt Administration expelled the player over Narduzzi’s objections.  Of course one of the more common instances is the NCAA taking the choice out of the institution’s hands.

The wording of these press releases says it all.  To refresh in this case:

Pat Narduzzi Announces Disciplinary Action
Defensive tackle Jeremiah Taleni dismissed from the program.

     PITTSBURGH—Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi announced today that senior defensive tackle Jeremiah Taleni has been dismissed from the program for disciplinary reasons.

     Taleni played in 21 career games, including four starting assignments, during his three active seasons with the Panthers.

When they use the term “dismissed from the program for disciplinary reasons” that means the HC had kicked the player off the team.  It is hard to get more specific than that without breaching student confidentiality clauses.  Now – the HC’s hands might have been tied by University policies when it comes to administration of disciplinary measures.

Has left the team” means the player chose this course of action voluntarily… most likely Pitt would say “has voluntarily left the team” or in a 5th year senior’s case it could mean he was asked to leave but the press release spins it in a nicer way.

In Voytik’s case we read that “Pitt quarterback Chad Voytik will pursue a graduate transfer upon receiving his degree at the end of the spring semester, Coach Pat Narduzzi announced.”

When a press release has this: “Has been suspended“, it means just that and is open ended – as opposed to “has been dismissed” which is final.  If we remember in the cases of Rori Blair and Tyler Boyd’s DUI charges Pat Narduzzi stated this publicly:

“In addition to their game suspensions, Tyler and Rori have been, and will continue to be, subject to internal discipline and accountability,” Narduzzi said in a statement. “The situations were very disappointing and both young men have expressed their regret. Our expectation is that each of them, as well as our entire team, will learn from their mistakes and be better for it moving forward.”

Believe me guys – if there was any choice in this matter to keep Taleni or to get rid of him Narduzzi would move heaven and earth to keep him.  For one bold reason is that without him our returning DL player’s have about zero experience at Pitt.  Between them all they have a couple of tackles for loss by Mike Herndon & Shane Roy  and one sack by Herndon.

But from the way the Pitt press release was written it sounds like it was either an internal incident or, most likely, a failed NCAA drug test.

This is a good time to review the NCAA’s latest stance on drug testing:

What is the penalty for a positive drug test?

The penalty for a positive test for a performance-enhancing drug (PED) is strict and automatic: student-athletes lose one full year of eligibility for the first offense (25 percent of their total eligibility) and are withheld from competition for 365 days from the date of the test. A second positive test for a PED results in the loss of all remaining eligibility.

The penalty for a positive test for a substance in the street drug class is withholding from competition for 50% of the season in all sports in which the student-athlete participates.  A second positive test for a street drug results in the loss of a year of eligibility and withholding from participation for 365 days from the test.

This is more stringent than in years passed. It used to be that if a player failed a school-administered test (as opposed to a NCAA-mandated one) the institution had local authority to administer internal discipline.  No longer is that the case apparently – now it is one (or two) and done.

Here is the full NCAA Drug Testing policy document if you care to get into the weeds.

DL Kam Carter (our last great hope on our 2017 DL) was dismissed by Penn State two years ago for failure to show up at a required drug test… he claims he ‘slept through it’.

Carter himself has no problem disclosing those now.  “Basically, I overslept a drug test,” he said. “That ended up being my third failed drug test.”

Which is pretty hilarious on the face of it – like the third test was something he didn’t have to set an alarm for.  His was a case that happened before the NCAA changed its testing and discipline policy.

Penn State was rather wordy in their press release about Carter:

“Kam Carter was informed on April 21 that he is no longer a member of the Penn State football team for a violation of team rules. We appreciate Kam’s contributions to the program and wish him success in the future”.  “We also hope he gets his head out of his ass when he’s sleeping” (edit mine)

Hell – Taleni didn’t even rate a public goodbye and thank you from Pitt… which makes me wonder if Taleni’s issue was a drug test at all and not something more ‘personal’ to the university. 

Now yesterday I checked the state arrest records for the Western PA Counties and also for Hawaii and didn’t find anything criminal with Taleni – which is good for the young man at least.

So what could it have been?

Well, severe insubordination could be one cause – something along the lines of his marching into Narduzzi’s office and telling him he hates his guts, that Narduzzi is a coward and has bad breath.  That might get him dismissed pretty quickly.

This all makes me wonder if anyone has seen Josh Conklin lately? 

It may be that Taleni went off and whooped on him so badly, with that Pacific Island temper those boys have, that Charlie Partridge will have to assume the DC duties this season – in which case I say we should chip in and buy Taleni a 1st class ticket upgrade for his flight home.