AUBURN, Ala. --When Zeke Pike was arrested late last weekend for public intoxication and subsequently left Auburn to head home to Kentucky for the rest of the summer, the news didn't exactly shake the Plains.
Pike's mishaps made news to be sure, but the surprise factor barely registered a blip on the Richter scale given the young quarterback's history.
Ever since the Dixie Heights )Ky.) High product committed to Auburn in April 2011, Pike's run-ins with authority have come at a pretty consistent pace.
Pike was ejected from a 7-on-7 tournament for throwing a ball at a referee last summer. He sat out the first game of the Dixie Heights season for getting ejected in a playoff game as a junior.
He never made it to the playoffs as a senior. Before Dixie Heights could make its first appearance, Pike, along with a couple of teammates was suspended for an undisclosed violation of team rules, a suspension that reports from WCPO, a Kentucky TV station, suggested was levied for the use of synthetic marijuana.
All of those offenses occurred long before Pike made good on his commitment by enrolling early in January to go through spring practices with the Tigers.
And it begs a simple question: Why did the Tigers keep Pike in the 2012 recruiting class?
When former offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn started recruiting Pike, he was a five-star recruit, a prospect with prototype size (listed at 6-foot-6, 229 pounds this spring), a big arm and some running ability.
From a football standpoint, signing Pike made perfect sense. Personal issues aside, Pike's enthusiasm for the school also made him a model Auburn commitment. He never wavered. He only got more interested.
But throughout the months leading up to national signing day, there were indicators that Auburn might be less than sold on Pike. Late in the process, the Tigers made a play for five-star Hueytown (Ala.) quarterback Jameis Winston, who eventually signed with Florida State. A few other passers were loosely mentioned.
And then, right before national signing day, Auburn landed Central-Phenix City quarterback Jonathan Wallace, a move that put two quarterbacks in the same class. At the time, Auburn's coaches touted Wallace's signing as a move to offset the early loss of Barrett Trotter.
But maybe Wallace was also brought in as an insurance policy for Pike's behavior. Make no mistake, if the roster only had Kiehl Frazier, Clint Moseley and Pike on scholarship right now, letting Pike head back to Kentucky would have been a much more difficult decision.
Even if it was the right one. Before he signed, Pike was already on a short leash, and now Auburn's coaches seem to be pulling it even tighter. The freshman apparently still has an awful lot of growing up to do.
Joel A Erickson, firstname.lastname@example.org