The letters “TJ-KD” are still on the door of the dormitory room in TCU’s Milton-Daniel Hall. Tony Jeffery and Kenneth Davis are still in there. But a part of Kenneth Davis is not.
You could see it on the door Monday. The rah-rah signs spoke only of “Tony the Tiger” and “The Gladewater Glide"--spoke only of Jeffery, who scored two touchdowns in TCU’s 24-22 victory over Kansas State last Saturday.
You could see it in Davis’ eyes Monday as he stood in front of that door and spoke about the hand that fate and Jim Wacker have dealt him.
“I’ve been a victim of honesty,” he said. “They said the truth hurts. It’s hurting. It hurts bad.”
It was simply Kenneth Davis, student, who showed up on campus Monday. It wasn’t the Temple Tornado. It wasn’t Kenneth Davis, Heisman Trophy candidate. But it wasn’t Kenneth Davis, bitter.
“I accept my penalty and have to move on,” he said.
A storybook college football career came crashing down about a week ago when TCU Coach Wacker suspended Davis and five other players for accepting cash from TCU boosters. Davis turned promise--potential that seemed wasted--into production as a junior last season, rushing for 1,611 yards to became TCU’s first consensus All-American pick since Bob Lilly in 1959. He finished fifth in the voting for the 1984 Heisman Trophy. He had hoped to do better this year. Now, all gone.
For Davis, missing out on the Heisman is the biggest hurt.
“It’s kind of like a dream you have as a kid,” he said Monday. “I have had the dream--go back to New York, maybe win, be in the top three anyway. It’s like all of it came to a halt. Like somebody took it and hit it with a sledgehammer.”
A source close to the coaching staff has said that the hammer wouldn’t have come down without Davis, that he is the player who first mentioned the payoffs in a conversation with running backs coach Tom Perry. On this point, Davis would not comment. “That’s something I can’t state now,” he said. “I’m sorry. There’s something I really would love to say on that.”
Davis did comment indirectly on the amounts of money that have surfaced. A source close to the program has said that Davis received as much as $1,100 of a total $1,800 supplied to the players each month from an alumni fund.
“That, I would like to clear up,” he said. “As far as my financial status is concerned, I didn’t receive nowhere close to that kind of money. I didn’t even receive half that. That’s pathetic as far as I’m concerned.”
He would not talk about specific amounts of money, however. “I can’t tell you. I’m sorry,” he said. “Please print that I don’t want any mud-throwing. Why am I going to squeal on anyone else, any other school, talk about another player or coaching staff or anything? It’s over, said and done. Coach Wacker took his action. Let life go on. We have skeletons in our closet, and they have found our skeletons.”
Davis said he does not hold any hard feelings toward Wacker.
“Oh, man, I haven’t lost any respect for the staff, the players, anyone,” he said. “I guess the best way for me to sum it up--and I told coach Perry this--is I always said that whenever I graduated, I hoped to start a scholarship fund for walk-on athletes. I told him (Perry) that if I make it in pro ball, I still would do it. I’ll still come back and put in a scholarship fund for walk-on athletes. I’ll still donate money to the speech department.”
In fact, he said he understands where Wacker is coming from in all this.
“I think the action they took, I think it showed a lot of integrity on coach Wacker’s part and the staff’s part,” he said. “The man just doesn’t believe in double standards.”
Davis said he would like to go to the NFL right now. “If I could turn professional, I would leave,” he said. “I honestly would leave. I would come back (later) and get my degree, but I would really honestly leave. That’s something you would hear from anybody in a situation like we (the suspended six) are in. But few people are in a position like we are in.”
Although he is a redshirt senior and was eligible to turn pro after last season when his true class was through, he can’t go anywhere now until the spring draft, according to NFL policy, because he has played in one game this season.
Agents already are calling his parents’ home, Davis said. “They tell my parents, ‘Don’t worry about this, don’t worry about that,’ ” he said, smiling. “Ain’t no way you can tell them not to worry about it.”
But he said he has pretty much reconciled himself to finishing the 23 hours he lacks for a degree and then moving on.
He spent the last weekend at his brother’s hurting. “I was at the point where I didn’t know the sun would even come up,” he said.
“As far as the team is concerned,” he said, “I’m glad they won. I was pulling for them all the way.