Brian Davis with the Austin American Statesman tweeted Wednesday afternoon that senior Texas running back Joe Bergeron has been released from his scholarship with the university. Earlier reports indicated that Division II West Texas A&M had expressed a desire to contact Bergeron, and that Bergeron had reciprocated the interest. Davis' most recent report states that West Texas A&M has received Bergeron's paperwork.
This announcement comes at the tail end of a strange disciplinary saga between Coach Strong and Bergeron. During spring football the running back was removed from the team for undisclosed reasons presumed to be violations of team rules, but apparently atoned for any mistakes during the off season. Last week at Big 12 Media Days Strong stated that Bergeron was back in the mix at running back, but by week's end reports surfaced that Bergeron had once again been dismissed from the team for an undisclosed violation of team rules. Unsubstantiated rumors and speculation indicate that the reason for the recent dismissal could be linked to a failed drug test. If Bergeron did fail a drug test, he would have the ability to appeal any possible dismissal from the football team.
As a true freshman, Bergeron contributed to the offense immediately, racking up almost 500 yards while sharing the ball carrying duties with a stable of running backs, and as a sophomore became a key part of the Longhorns' short yardage package. Last season's production fell off as the running back took a back seat to Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown as the primary running back threat. In 2013 Bergeron carried the ball 73 times --approximately the same number of carries as freshman year-- for a mere 362 yards and 4 touchdowns.
The flirtations with a Division II school located in Canyon, Texas (population 13,857) likely stem from the fact that Bergeron only has one year of NCAA eligibility left. If Bergeron transfers to West Texas A&M or other DII school he will be able to play immediately. UT Athletics has not released an official statement on the situation at this time.
If reports prove to be accurate, the Longhorns will be without a player who was expected to be a key contributor to the offense and provide senior leadership in a time of major change in the Texas Football program. We hope that the young man overcomes his issues and finishes his career strongly.