The 3 stages of Bronco grief
I'll admit that the Ukwuachu news came out of left field for me. I knew he hadn't participated in the Spring Game, but that was just for "personal reasons", right? RIGHT?! Well, a well-timed text this afternoon got the ball rolling for me in this whole soap opera...and wouldn't you know that my response to said text was "you're kidding..."
But no...the text was no joke, and 15 minutes later, when confirmation came, I was looking for things nearby to break (sorry about your priceless Ming vase, valued co-worker). WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD TEAMS?!
It doesn't really matter what Ukwuachu did to get the boot. That's something that only the TMZ-watching side of me needs to know. Suffice it to say, Ukwuachu isn't an axe-murderer—nor should he be treated as such. He's a talented kid that made a mistake (or two)—and in general, his misdeeds are likely no worse than something any number of college-aged kids do on a regular basis, except he's not a regular college kid. Regular college kids don't have to go to class (strictly speaking), show up for 5:30 meetings or workouts, or maintain certain GPAs. I got lazy one semester early on and skipped class too often and paid for it dearly when finals rolled around. The next semester I was still in school, with a little more resolve to try harder. Sometimes student-athletes don't get those second chances and that's just life. It sucks that a promising career is over (for now)...but that's why Boise State preaches that the next guy has to be ready to step up and carry the flag.
Maybe it will be Sam McCaskill...maybe Tyler Horn will move back outside...maybe Mat Boesen will forego his planned nickel excursion and take reps with the DEs after his arrival this summer. Fact is, that doesn't really matter much either. Someone will step up, and whether they're as good or as promising as Ukwuachu doesn't really matter. We wrung our hands about Shea McClellin's departure the year prior and his exit, while more palatable because it was to graduation and the NFL draft, was much more devastating in terms of production. Ukwuachu had 4.5 sacks and 7 tackles-for-loss last year in an Freshman All-American Campaign. McClellin had 7 sacks and 12.5 TFL as a senior and 9.5 sacks as a junior. That's tough to replace...and no one knew prior to 2012 if it could be done. Demarcus Lawrence filled that void and Ukwuachu showed the promise to become a starter for his remaining 3 years. Now, he won't be—but the next guy up may be as good or better...or for that matter, he may be worse...but he won't be significantly worse and he won't stay that way...that's a fact. So buck up, Broncos. Attrition happens every year to injury, graduation, or...um...shenanigans. The show must—and will—go on. Promise you'll lose more sleep over a conference loss than this one.