Has Urban Meyer Unleashed the Gators?
Morning Quiz: Urban Meyer calls a reporter a “bad guy” for quoting a player. What will he call Chris Rainey for stalking a woman? A Starter! –Twitter
A report in this week’s Orlando Sentinel has revealed that during Urban Meyer’s tenure at the University of Florida, 27 different players have been arrested 30 separate times (not to mention over 250 traffic citations). This begs the question: at what point does the behavior of the players outweigh the success of the coach?
Would you rather your team consistently win 9 or 10 games with a clean program? Or would you rather support a team with major behavioral shortcomings that wins a national championship every few years, Florida now being the prime example? In the money-is-king world of college/pro athletics we are more likely to see coaches fired for lack of success on the field than for problems outside the arena. Exhibit A: Bruce Pearl.
Coach Meyer responded to a question about running a dirty program by saying:
“Dirty program? It’s not a dirty program. We follow the rules and some guys make mistakes and we’ve got to correct those mistakes. We follow the rules. We do it the right way at Florida and we have to do a better job with correcting some of the people making mistakes.”
There may be something contributing to both this current issue in Gainesville, and the problems at Florida State (the Seminoles) in the 1990′s which were so bad the team was often called the “Criminoles.” Besides the fact that the teams are both blessed and cursed with such high profiles, in Florida a person doesn’t have to be taken to jail in handcuffs to be considered arrested. A simple notice to appear is technically an arrest in the eyes of the law. As a result, the numbers could be inflated.
Jeff Benedict believes this is indeed part of a disturbing trend. An article in Sports Illustrated reports on this issue as well. He states that in the first 8 months of 2010, there were 125 professional and college football and basketball players arrested on serious charges. These charges all involving violence, weapons, or substance abuse. He concludes by calling upon the universities to hold players to a higher standard.
For a list of charges incurred by Florida football players, see the Orlando Sentinel report here.