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UMass coach Charley Molnar’s discipline quick and fair

Massachusetts head coach Charley Molnar yells to his team in the second quarter of an NCAA college football game against Bowling Green in Foxborough, Mass., Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012. Bowling Green won 24-0. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Massachusetts head coach Charley Molnar yells to his team in the second quarter of an NCAA college football game against Bowling Green in Foxborough, Mass., Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012. Bowling Green won 24-0. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer) Purchase photo reprints »

A pair of incidents over the past two weeks have offered a unique window into just what is and what isn’t acceptable to University of Massachusetts Charley Molnar.

He suspended three players for academic issues that the general public would never had known about if he hadn’t disciplined them and he gave nighttime running punishment to D’Metrius Williams, whose halftime locker room tweets became national news. In other words, none of this is window dressing.

The Minutemen were coming off their best performance of the season, a near upset of Ohio University, and were headed to play a struggling Western Michigan team, which had lost its starting quarterback. Somewhere in his mind, Molnar had to figure his winless team might have its best shot to win with a full squad. Alan Williams and Nick Speller are both important members of the offense and are eligible under university and NCAA rules. Speller is a reliable, healthy veteran offensive lineman on a unit that’s young and injured. Alan Williams is a solid receiver who caught three touchdown passes against Ohio.

Both players are seniors so it’s not like academic problems now could have prevented them from helping the football team in future seasons. Molnar could have let the players finish the season and have their academic woes be their problem later without affecting him building the program. Instead he chose to suspend them until they got their grades in order, a process that’s still ongoing.

“Both of those guys want to be back, but under our terms and conditions,” Molnar said. “When they’ve shown the progress we’re looking for them to make, they can be full members of the football team.”

On the other hand, D’Metrius Williams’ mistake was very public. He was mocked by ESPN, Deadspin, USA Today and seemingly half of the people with Twitter accounts. Going into Saturday’s Vanderbilt game where his team is a heavy underdog, Molnar could have suspended Williams as a show of toughness.

He opted to emphasize academics over improving his chances of beating Western Michigan, and fairness and reason instead of scoring cheap public relations points by overreacting to Tweetgate.

“I don’t want to understate what happened, nor do I want to overdo it,” Molnar said. “It was a mistake by an exuberant freshman. He was having the game of his life to that point and he was so excited about everything that he had to shout it out. Hopefully he’s learned from it. ... Man oh man he was racked with guilt after the game and we talked about it.”

Molnar said he prefers fast-acting discipline.

“I always feel that punishment should be swift and severe so they learn from it and we get it over with. Nobody wants it hanging over their head. I always feel better, whatever the discipline is, after it’s over, because I’m always looking at it as a growth experience,” Molnar said. “Once they’ve taken their medicine, they move on. Hopefully they learned from the experience and grow from it. I don’t harbor any ill will or grudge from it. If they do what they’re supposed to do that’s all I can ask of them. They all make mistakes. We all makes mistakes. I just want to see them grow from it.”

Repeat offenders are a different story. Defensive back Mike Lee was suspended in the spring and into the summer, but was given a second chance in late August. When Lee ran afoul of Molnar again prior to Western Michigan, he was dismissed from the team.

D’Metrius Williams, who hadn’t been in trouble before, owned up to his mistake.

“It’s a dumb mistake. Maybe two years from now it’ll be funny,” said Williams, who wasn’t looking forward to the 10:30 p.m. run, but thought it was fair. “It was a dumb mistake by me. He could have given me way worse. So I’m loving this consequence coming at 10:30. ... If we cross the line, there’s a consequence. When you cross the line you’ve got to get disciplined and (Molnar) does a good job of doing that. On the football field you have to play with discipline. The foundation of a winning team is discipline along with talent and skill level. Once we get our talent and skill level along with the discipline we should be unbeatable on the field.”

EXPENSIVE RANT — Wyoming coach Dave Christensen could have run all night and not properly atoned for his misstep so he got suspended.

Christensen thought Air Force had faked an injury to buy time at the end of the Falcons’ 28-27 win over the Cowboys and told Air Force coach Troy Calhoun about it in a very profane manner during the postgame handshake.

With cameras rolling Christensen used the king of all cuss words 14 times. He called Calhoun “Mr. Howdy Doody,” said Calhoun “had no (expletive) ethics” and, while being pushed away by Wyoming staff, shouted “get in your (expletive) press conference, fly boy.”

Christensen was suspended for Saturday’s game against Boise State and fined $50,000 or $3,571.43 per use of the F-word.

HEISMAN CHASE — Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein took advantage of the big stage in the Wildcats’ 55-14 win over West Virginia. He had a season-high 323 yards passing and three TDs to silence some of the critics who say he can’t pass.

Texas Tech quarterbacks always get overlooked because of system but Seth Doege continues to put up big numbers against good teams, including this week’s 318-yard, seven-touchdown effort vs. TCU.

GAMES OF THE WEEK — No. 14 Texas Tech at No. 3 Kansas State, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. FOX — Klein vs. Doege is a pretty good undercard to a potentially terrific game.

No. 5 Notre Dame at No. 8 Oklahoma, Saturday, 8 p.m. ABC — If the Fighting Irish win this one they might be able to lose to Southern Cal next month and still make a BCS bowl.

No. 11 Mississippi State at No. 1 Alabama, Saturday, 8:30 p.m. ESPN — One of the 11 remaining undefeated teams won’t be perfect come midnight. Nobody is really looking at the Bulldogs as title contenders. A win here changes that.

MAC GAME OF THE WEEK — Kent State at Rutgers, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ESPN3.com — Rutgers is undefeated, Kent is 6-1. A week after Toledo bounced Cincinnati from the unbeaten ranks, the Golden Flashes will try to take down the Scarlet Knights.

MAYBE THE MAYANS WERE RIGHT ABOUT THE IMPENDING APOCALYPSE — Duke is not only bowl eligible, but could win the ACC Coastal Division.

ON THE ROAD TO — An Alabama vs. Oregon, championship game.

Information from personal interviews, newspaper articles and sports information releases was used in this report.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Follow UMass coverage on Twitter at twitter.com/GazetteUMass. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage.

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