Over the years, Utah State football players have developed a poor reputation for getting in trouble with the law more than the average student. Even though Aggie coaches have talked tough, they haven't had a good record of keeping some of their players out of trouble off the field.
That could change under new Aggie coach Dave Arslanian.To a man, the Aggie players say Arslanian is tougher than his predecessor, John L. Smith, who, although supposedly stricter than Charlie Weatherbie, sometimes tried to sweep Aggie indiscretions under the rug.
"I've made a big deal out of attitude and character," said Ar-slan-ian. "I know it will pay dividends for us in the long haul."
When asked about the biggest difference between Smith and Arslanian, linebacker Tony D'Amato said the biggest difference was in team rules.
"(These coaches) are more strict - last year they were a little more liberal," said D'Amato. "Coach Arslanian wants us to be gentlemen off the field. We needed a change."
"He's pretty strict, he sets the standard," said safety Johndale Carty. "He doesn't bend for nothing and that's good. You rarely find that. He treats you the way you're supposed to be treated and I respect that."
Arslanian said he tried to "be fair about things that have happened in the past," such as Demario Brown's conviction of assaulting a fellow student last year, and players getting into trouble at a club in Boise before the Humanitarian Bowl.
However, he came down hard on receiver Ricky Brumfield, who was finally convicted of theft this summer for an incident that happened nearly a year earlier. Arslanian took Brumfield's scholarship away but is allowing him to remain on the team under certain stipulations.
"He lost his scholarship. He's paying his own way," said Arslanian. "I agreed with the judge. (Brumfield) has been punished by the system and by us and I hope he survives it and is with us in the fall. We absolutely don't want that type of behavior. There's some responsibility with being a college football player."
Despite his tough warnings to his players, Arslanian still worries.
"Every night when I go to bed I say, `Help them stay out of trouble tonight.' "
HUMBLED: Both Brown and Brumfield have been humbled by their brushes with the law last year and both expect to stay out of trouble in the future.
"It hit me hard," said Brown, who was accused of beating up another student. "I had never been in trouble with the law before and it allowed me to see the effect I have on people around me. It was a good learning experience, but I'm glad it's behind me now."
"In life you learn, and now I'm just trying to put it in my past and do better things to make better decisions," said Brumfield. "It's a big sacrifice (paying own way), but it makes you realize how much you want it. I just want to deal with football and graduate."
AG NOTES: One of the biggest laughs from last Friday's Media Day came when pictures were being taken of players according to the areas they came from. D'Amato, one of the biggest and strongest Ags, posed between two of the smaller Aggies, punter Jerry Arguello and placekicker Brad Bohn, who checks in at just 5-foot-7, 171 pounds. . . . Two transfers from BYU may start for the Aggies. Greg White is projected as a starter at cornerback, while Riley Jensen is battling Brian Benza for the quarterback slot. . . . The Aggies have two-a-day practices daily at 10 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. until a week before the opener with Utah Sept. 5 in Logan.