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UF’s Muschamp Says Coaches “100% Responsible” For Their Players’ Off-Field Behavior

FLORIDA MEDIA DAYSFlorida’s Will Muschamp was asked today how much responsibility a coach has for the off-field behavior of his players.  His response was perfect:

 

“You’re a hundred percent responsible.  When you sign a student-athlete to come the University of Florida, I look at his parents or his guardians and I tell them it’s my job to be an extension of what’s already happened at home.  But you’re one hundred percent responsible for the young man…

I can’t possibly know everything that happens every single night with our football team, but you also can’t stick your head in the sand and pretend that everything’s OK.  You need to be very aware of the kind of guys your guys are hanging out with.  I encourage our (staff) to constantly be with our guys.”

 

Can a coach truly be fully responsible for what his players do?  No.  A coach can’t be with 100 players all day and all night every day and night.

Still, it’s refreshing to hear a coach take full responsibility.  And in Muschamp’s case, you get the sense he’s not just paying lip service to that notion.  After all, when he gave former star Gator defensive back Janoris Jenkins the heave-ho after repeated off-field incidents, Jenkins famously said, “If Coach (Urban) Mayer were still coaching, I’d still be playing for the Gators.”

Meyer talked a good game on the discipline front but his track record suggested it was all just a lot of hot air.  Muschamp appears to be running a tighter ship in Gainesville these days.  And that gives today’s statement a lot more weight.

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Muschamp Defends Meyer At UF, But We’re Not Buying His Argument

File this one under: What’s he supposed to say?

At a Gator booster club gathering last night, Florida football coach Will Muschamp took up for the man who preceded him in Gainesville.  When a UF fan asked him about The Sporting News’ recent hit job on Urban Meyer — a Matt Hayes-penned piece claiming the coach lost control of the program, allowed drug use to take place, and played favorites when it came to discipline – the current Gator coach said of the former Gator coach:


“I think Urban Meyer did a great job at the University of Florida.  He won two conference championships.  He won two national championships.  And I don’t know how you can do that without discipline.  That’s my opinion.  I wasn’t here at that time, but I know that I am very proud to be part of a program that he was a part of, and he did a great job at Florida.”


Muschamp has said the right things about Meyer before.  Last year at SEC Media Days he said that Meyer had been “first class” and that he’d listened to his predecessor’s advice “more than anyone else.”

The closest he’s come to really saying anything that could even be slightly construed as negative toward Meyer’s regime was last October when he said UF lacked the players to install a power running game.

Facts, however, are facts.  Muschamp can talk all he likes about UF having discipline under Meyer, but when he booted star corner Janoris Jenkins after two quick pot arrests last spring, the player said he’d still be on the team if his old coach were still around.

So if Meyer had discipline, it’s safe to say — based on Jenkins’ comments — that Muschamp is trying to instill even more into the Florida program.

And while discipline issues can indeed destroy a team that needs a mix of chemistry and talent to win, an uber-talented team can win with thugs, miscreants and rule-breakers on the roster.  See: Miami Hurricanes, 1980-90s.  Many wins and titles.  Many arrests and embarrassments.

Florida had a once-in-a-generation talent in Tim Tebow surrounded by a fleet of 4- and 5-star prospects for four of Meyer’s six years in Gainesville.  But the success he had on the field with that player and that roster don’t prove by any stretch that the coach actually maintained discipline off the football field.

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Writer: No One Has A Feel For Florida This Year

When it comes to the 2011 Florida Gators, no one seems to know what to expect from them.  That includes the national media and preseason prognosticators.  And that includes Pat Dooley of The Gainesville Sun, too:


“… I remember when no preseason magazine would consider not having Florrda in its top 25.  Several have this summer.  It’s another example that people just don’t k now what to expect from Will Muschamp’s first year.  When was the last time we went to Hoover for SEC Media Days and had to think really hard about whether or not to put any Gators on the All-SEC team?  You know there will be some on the postseason team, but in the preseason we don’t really have a feel for who they will be.  This is the Year of the Unknown at UF.”


The Gator defense has plenty of talent, even without star corner Janoris Jenkins (who was dismissed from the team this spring).  If Charlie Weis can maximize the under-developed or under-utilized talent he inherits on offense, the Gators could surprise. 

But that gets back to Dooley’s point — When was the last time a Florida team had to surprise anyone?

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Muschamp Still Talking About “The Florida Way,” Jenkins Pleads Not Guilty

When Will Muschamp was introduced as Florida’s football coach late last year, he answered questions about UF’s numerous off-field issues by discussing what he called “The Florida Way.”  Yesterday, the new Gator coach was once again talking about his plan to change the culture in Gainesville.

“I’ve said it before, it’s not a right to play at Florida, it’s a privilege,” Muschamp told a booster group in Tampa.  “I think you’re always in the business of education, and when you’re educating young people, you’re constantly having a mental conditioning state for making good choices and decisions.  Regardless of what you do — and sometimes the types of people they’re around — they’ll make poor decisions.  That’s part of the education process.  That’s the job that we’re in.  We wear a lot of hats as football coaches; not jus the job we do on Saturday afternoon.”

One player who ran out of chances to be educated is All-SEC cornerback Janoris Jenkins who was booted from the Florida team after his second arrest for marijuana possession since Muschamp’s arrival.  He had also been arrested once under Urban Meyer.

Jenkins has pled not guilty to the most recent charge and his attorney seems to think that the issue will be worked out before going to trial.

Meanwhile, someone described as Jenkins’ mentor has said the player will transfer to a Division II school rather than enter the NFL’s supplemental draft.

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UF’s Jenkins On Muschamp: “He Washed His Hands Of Me”

On Tuesday, Will Muschamp announced via Twitter that star cornerback Janoris Jenkins had been dismissed from the Florida program following his third arrest overall and his second — for marijuana possession — while under Muschamp’s watch.

Muschamp’s tweet:


After meeting with Janoris Jenkins today, we both felt it was in his best interest to move ahead to the next stage of his career.


But that’s not exactly the way Jenkins told the story to The Orlando Sentinel yesterday.

“The only thing he said was I was dismissed as soon as I walked in the room,” Jenkins said.  “He washed his hands of me.”

“They know (Muschamp) didn’t give me no option to make. … There was nothing else I could have done or said.”

The paper then turned to a UF spokesperson for comment, but he said he could not elaborate on the meeting between Muschamp and Jenkins.  “We stand by the statements that we made yesterday regarding the matter.”

Jenkins’ attorney says that his client will fight the most recent charge of marijuana possession stemming from an arrest in Gainesville on Saturday. 

A mentor of Jenkins — that’s The Sentinel’s word — added, “We’re going to wait on the court to show that he didn’t do anything wrong and he should have never been dismissed from nowhere.”

Here’s the rub for Jenkins: No one is going to feel too sorry for a player who has been arrested three times during his college career.  A roster spot on a football team is earned.  Therefore a roster spot can also be lost.

While we’re not fans of coaches running off players for simply failing to develop as the coaches had projected, we don’t have much trouble with a coach pulling the plug on someone who repeatedly puts himself in bad situations and who consistently creates bad publicity for his team and his school.

And remember, it’s entirely possible that Muschamp gave Jenkins a “don’t come back into my office in trouble again” speech the last time he was arrested.

Indeed, had Jenkins not been arrested two times previously, it’s doubtful his latest run-in with the law would have resulted in his exit from the Gator program.

Muschamp might have washed his hands of Jenkins, but Jenkins is the man who gave his coach the soap and water.

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Muschamp Tweets News That Jenkins Has Been Dismissed

Give Will Muschamp a hand.  The new Florida coach could have allowed star cornerback Janoris Jenkins to stay on his team.  He could have handled matters internally.  He could have allowed fans to make the “it was only marijuana” case for him.

Instead, he’s announced on Twitter today that the Gator star has been dismissed from Florida’s football team after his second pot-related arrest since January.  (Jenkins was arrested three times total while in Gainesville, but only twice on Muschamp’s watch).

The coach tweeted:

After meeting with Janoris Jenkins today, we both felt it was in his best interest to move ahead to the next stage of his career.

We appreciate Janoris’ contributions to the University of Florida during his time here and wish him the best of luck.

While I’m a fan of second chances and third chances — and I guess this would have been a fourth chance for Jenkins — I must applaud a coach who realizes that second and third chances don’t necessarily come on a football team.  Jenkins can now take his talents to the NFL — likely via the supplemental draft — for a second chance.  But he won’t be breaking team rules again in Gainesville.

This is a strong message for Muschamp to send.  His new players can now see that even stars must play by the rules if they’re going to play for Muschamp.  Character counts as much as talent, at least in Jenkins’ case.

Kudos to Muschamp for not allowing a young man to bring down his name as well as Florida’s.  I think we all know that if Urban Meyer were still in Gainesville, Jenkins would likely still be on his football team.

There truly appears to be a new sheriff in town.

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It Appears Muschamp Isn’t The Tough Judge He Claimed To Be

As soon as news emerged that Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins had been cited for possession of marijuana, the question rang out from the Atlantic to the Ozarks:

“How will Will Muschamp discipline the first player to get into trouble on his watch?”

ESPN.com’s Chris Low asked that question.  So did Florida fan bloggers.  Heck, just about everyone asked that question.

And the answer?

“We are aware of the incident with Janoris Jenkins and will handle it internally at this time,” said the new coach’s press release.

Oh.

When Muschamp took over in Gainesville, he promised a get-tough approach to Gators making bad headlines.  Discipline would be a pillar of his program.

But faced with a star player dumb to being rolling a joint in a public nightclub… Muschamp blinked.  “We’ll handle it internally.”  So much for “Dirty Harry.”

This should surprise no one, of course.  With increased media coverage, more player arrests are publicized these days.  As a result, coaches are under more scrutiny than ever before when it comes to the behavior of their players.  So they talk about discipline among the ranks.  They claim to target “quality young men” and not just guys with good 40 times.  Many even start special programs and classes designed to foster maturity and leadership skills in their athletes.  Why most even get tough with the occasional walk-on (or the four-star recruit who’s turned out to be more of a one-star type player).

But, boy, do they ever look the other way when a star stumbles.

This isn’t just a Muschamp issue, of course.  The last new coach to enter the conference talking tough was another Nick Saban protege — Derek Dooley at Tennessee.  Like Muschamp, he too has a star defensive back who has gotten himself into trouble with marijuana… on more than one occasion.  But All-SEC safety Janzen Jackson remains on the Volunteer football team. 

Lesson: When you hear tough talk, don’t take it seriously.

Personally, I’m not a “letter of the law” type of guy in the first place.  I’d be more likely to forgive a player and move on (at least to a point).  But it’s for that very reason that I would never introduce myself as some sort of rigid disciplinarian.

Most coaches would be much better off never bringing up discipline at all during an opening press conference.  Better to let fans and media learn about their disciplinary beliefs as off-field issues arise.  To make a big deal out of behavior and discipline and “leadership programs” right out of the gate only invites fans and media to roll their eyes when the first blue-chipper flubs and then gets the usual “internal discipline.”

To talk tough and not deliver just leaves most folks saying, “Oh.” 

As usual.

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Misdemeanor Pot Citation For Gators’ Jenkins

Less than a month after announcing that he would return to Florida for his senior season, Gator cornerback Janoris Jenkins was arrested for misdemeanor possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana.

Jenkins was found to have a small, clear bag of weed in his possession in the bathroom of a Gainesville night club on Saturday.  The player was cited on the spot and was not taken into custody.

Jenkins was also arrested in May of 2009 for resisting arrest without violence when he and several others were involved in a fight at another Gainesville night club.  (Sidenote — It might be time for Jenkins to avoid the night club scene.)  His record was later cleared of the charge.

Welcome to Gainesville, Will Muschamp.  Jenkins is the first Gator to get into trouble since the hiring of Florida’s new coach.  There were 30 arrests under the watch of Urban Meyer.

“We are aware of the incident with Janoris Jenkins and will handle it internally at this time,” Muschamp said yesterday. 

If Muschamp wants to curb some of the trouble his players get into he might think about tweaking his program’s ridiculous five-strikes drug policy.  No policy in the SEC is weaker… which is likely one reason that a member of UF’s 2006 national championship team estimated that 75% of his teammates smoked weed.

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UF’s Jenkins Turning Pro Early

You can add the name Janoris Jenkins to the growing list of SEC underclassmen heading to the NFL.  ESPN.com’s Joe Schad reported late last night that “a source close to the decision” confirmed Jenkins’ plan yesterday.

Jenkins missed the Outback Bowl due to a right shoulder injury that required surgery in December.  It’s long been expected that he would leave school early.

ESPN’s Todd McShay ranks him as the 11th best prospect in the upcoming NFL drat and the third-best corner.

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Jenkins, Three Others Out For UF’s Outback Bowl

The University of Florida confirmed today that four Gator footballers have had surgery this month and will not play against Penn State in Saturday’s Outback Bowl.  Among the injured — cornerback Janoris Jenkins (left).

Jenkins is expected to jump to the NFL in April, so his career in Gainesville is likely over.  According to The Gainesville Sun, there’s a chance he’ll be replaced in the bowl game by true freshman Cody Riggs.

Maurice Hurt (offensive line), Terron Sanders and Lawrence Marsh (both D-tackles) will also miss the game.  All three of those players are seniors.

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