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Fisher's real failure as father

By now, he would have skittered and he would have slid. As a running back, he would have rushed for, oh, 111 of the darndest yards you have seen.

By now, he would have dodged and he would have darted. As a quarterback, he would have thrown, say, 22 times, and he would have completed 12 for 127 yards.

By now, he would have zigged and he would have zagged. As a returner, he would have brought back at least one punt for a touchdown.

He would have nine receptions. He would have scored three touchdowns. He would have made a goal-line offense something interesting. He would have added a little muscle to an offense that could use flexing.

Yep, had he not fumbled away his career, Brian Fisher would have given South Florida a few more memories.

As it is, college football should not forget the lessons that have left his career in limbo.

Say what you wish about the missing star, but let us agree on this much: Fisher is not a victim. It was his lack of responsibility that removed him from the USF roster, his lack of restitution that has kept him there, and his lack of maturity that led him in and out of jails, and headlines throughout the offseason.

It is difficult to muster sympathy for Fisher, who owes child support to mothers of both of his children. A man takes care of his children. Period. Everything else is recess. Fisher owes more than $18,000 in child support; at $135 a week, that's a lot of missed payments.

There is a shame, however, in wasted potential. No matter where he lined up, Fisher was going to be something. He was on his way to being a Blackwell, a Mitchell, a Henry, one of those other special players who have graced the Bulls roster throughout their brief history.

It is in that waste, in those unachieved moments, that you will find the true legacy of Brian Fisher.

This is one of those times when sports makes you pay attention to real life, whether you want to or not. You say you feel bad for Fisher as he tries to play for a club team? You say you're sorry his dreams are on hold?

Ask yourself this: What about the children?

What about the mothers?

What do they dream?

No, deadbeat dads didn't start with Fisher, and no, unwanted pregnancy isn't a problem just with football players. Still, a lot of college players, and a startling amount of high school players, have children. We can moralize about it another time, if you wish.

If I were a coach, however, I would gather my kids into a circle, and I would talk to them. I would talk about dreams and goals, about responsibilities and about sacrifice. I would talk to them about Fisher.

I would tell my players that parenthood, at any age, is difficult and expensive. I would tell them that Fisher isn't the only person who has had his life altered by having children. I would tell them to look up the word "abstinence."

I would remind them of a few numbers. There are 820,000 teen pregnancies a year, and of those, only 41.5 percent of the mothers finish high school. Only 1.5 percent complete college by the time they are seniors.

Even compared to third and 9, those are staggering numbers.

Given the statistics, why shouldn't a player be responsible for the support of his child? Why shouldn't he be a father? If football really does teach life lessons, shouldn't it teach that one?

I would tell them about Fisher, who only a year ago seemed like lightning from every direction. He could run. He could catch. He could throw. He could beat you from anywhere.

I would tell them that it is a shame his ability was not matched by his accountability.

Then I would remind them how college football has gone on without Fisher. So has South Florida. Around the USF program, where Fisher was supposed to be the most dangerous player, his name is not spoken, and his possibilities are not considered. His potential seems as lost as the support payments he was supposed to make.

Frankly, USF could have used him on Saturday night against TCU. The offense has spent most of the season sputtering, yearning for a big play at a key moment. It could have used him as a runner, as a receiver, as a playmaker. He has been gone for three games now, but there are still pockets in a USF game when you wonder just how memorable his senior season could have been.

Off the field, Fisher should have been remembered as so much more.

There are athletes who are remembered for their dependability. There are players remembered for their leadership. There are players who are looked up to, listened to, counted on. There are players who are remembered for their wisdom, for the things they pass on. There are players you never forget.

No, not by the freshmen.

By his children.