As players, they had nothing in common. But when I heard the news about Mike Ford's dismissal from South Florida, I immediately thought of Elijah Fields.
Like's Pitt's talented but troubled safety, Ford had a world of potential but simply couldn't meet the requirements necessary to stay on the field. And like Fields, he won't be around for his senior season.
Bulls fans dreamed of big things from Ford when he rushed for 645 yards and 12 touchdowns as a freshman. He was a big back who could plow it in at the goal line, but he also had speed.
But Ford would never run for as much as 500 yards in a season again. He had problems with injuries and maintaining his weight. He was arrested twice. He got suspended for a game in 2007 and for the start of the 2009 season. He never could seem to get out of Jim Leavitt's doghouse and, for long stretches, it seemed like he had disappeared.
Then there was the breakout game in the 2010 International Bowl when he ran all over Northern Illinois in the second half and finished with 207 yards. I -- and I'm sure many Bulls fans felt the same way -- was looking forward to seeing what Ford could do as a senior under new coach Skip Holtz, who may have made more of a commitment to using running backs than Leavitt's staffs ever did.
An in-shape, motivated Ford getting 20 to 25 carries a game would have been intriguing to say the least. He was one of those players that fans always asked me about in chats and e-mails, because his talent was so obvious when he was on the field.
We don't know yet what Ford did to earn his dismissal. But, like Fields, he must have known he was on a very short leash, even with a new coaching staff in town. For him to commit even a minor transgression shows a recklessness and foolishness that is mind-boggling.
Sometimes it's good for a new head coach to dismiss a player for a rules violation, especially one as talented as Ford. That shows the rest of the team that the new sheriff means business. I'm sure, though, Holtz would rather had Ford in the backfield this spring, even though he still has a lot of available options there. The Bulls could go with Mo Plancher, Lindsey Lamar, Jamar Taylor, Richard Kelly ... the list goes on and on.
None had quite the package of potential that Ford had. It's a shame he could never fully realize all his skills had to offer.