Monday, October 3, 2011
Illini make right call on Jonathan Brown
By Brian Bennett
Illinois coach Ron Zook has suspended linebacker Jonathan Brown for this week's game at Indiana, and that's the right call.
If you saw the play that led to Brown's suspension, you know why. Well after a play had been whistled dead on Saturday, Brown walked over toward unsuspecting Northwestern lineman Patrick Ward and kneed him right in the groin. Ward doubled over in pain, and Brown was tagged with a personal foul penalty. He's probably lucky he wasn't ejected, too.
The Big Ten issued a public reprimand to Brown, and Brown apologized in a written statement. Zook had little choice but to suspend him, and I'm sure there will be some extra punishment doled out this week. Hope Brown has plenty of tread on his running shoes.
It was an extremely cheap shot, and Brown apparently got caught up in the heat of what has become a pretty intense rivalry. Illini players were clearly fired up during last week's buildup to the game, and this whole battle for Chicago thing has become personal. But there's never any excuse for that kind of dirty play.
Brown is having a fantastic sophomore season, with 30 tackles, including six for loss, two sacks and an interception. He was the Big Ten defensive player of the week after his standout performance against Arizona State, and he's been one of the key cogs of the Illinois defense. Hopefully he learns a lesson through this suspension, and his season won't be defined by one boneheaded move.