This isn't about second chances.
Jonathan Taylor already got his mulligan in March when he was arrested on suspicion of theft while at Georgia. He then wasted Mark Richt's forgiveness four months later when he was arrested for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, prompting his dismissal from the program.
So, no, this isn't about second chances at all. It's not about third chances, either.
It's about gravity. When you fall you should actually fall down.
The defensive tackle enrolled in classes at Alabama on Wednesday after a quick stay at a community college in Mississippi. He was one of eight early enrollees announced by the team.
Falling up to Alabama after being booted from Georgia defies gravity. He not only rebounded to another FBS program, he boomeranged to the SEC's premier team, where he'll be part of a defensive line that could be among the best in college football in 2015.
Calling Taylor's signing a "second chance," as Alabama athletic director Bill Battle described it in a statement, is not only a mischaracterization, it's an overstatement. It's glossing over Taylor's missteps while ignoring the crimes of which he's been accused. Taylor is still facing two felony counts of aggravated assault, as well as an April trial on misdemeanor theft charges.
"Our coaches and I feel he is worthy of a second chance at completing his college football career at this level," Battle said, "and that he fully understands the position in which he has placed himself."
Why would Nick Saban and the school's administration feel the need to bring Taylor in given his history of bad decisions? With so many talented players already on campus, why take on such a risk?
While Battle and assistant to the president Deborah Lane have given statements about Taylor's enrollment at Alabama, Saban has said nothing publicly. Instead, we're left with his words from a month ago when he was asked about the way defensive lineman D.J. Pettway has responded since his return to the team last January after being dismissed for allegedly assaulting and robbing a student on campus.
"There's always a lot of criticism out there when somebody does something wrong," Saban said. "Everybody wants to know ‘How are you going to punish the guy?' But there's not enough -- for 19- and 20-year-old kids -- people out there saying, ‘Why don't you give them another chance?'"
In what Saban himself described as a "speech," he rejected "all the criticism out there about every guy who is 19 years old and makes a mistake and you all kill them."
"It was really, really good for me, and I think some of our administrators ... who shake hands with all our players when they walk across the stage and graduate, when we give somebody a second chance and they do well and graduate from school," he said.
No one is denying Taylor that opportunity. But since when did Alabama become a center for reform? There are 127 other FBS programs and 124 FCS schools that play organized college football.
While Saban's eagerness to help troubled athletes is admirable, maybe there should be a limit to that generosity. A year after accepting Pettway back into the fold, we've already reached the point where Alabama is sitting on a potential PR nightmare. Because if you think no one will ever put two and two together and point out when Pettway and Taylor are on the field at the same time, you're fooling yourself. Separating the athletes from the alleged crimes is impossible.
Which is why you shouldn't call Taylor's signing at Alabama a second chance. This will be his third opportunity at reform, and we all know what happens after a third strike.
If Taylor doesn't make the most of this latest break in his life, it won't be just him who looks bad.