Well, Florida almost made it. It had been a quiet offseason with zero player run-ins with the law. Incoming freshman Jalen Tabor has had a minor brush with the law enforcement. While that is an extremely disappointing start for this talented young man’s career it could be worse. This was not a major offense. More importantly, this was NOT a veteran player that was expected to be a leader. I have always thought that offseason arrests tend to be a bad omen of the current mentality of the team. Clearly, such altercations are not always indicative of the success or lack thereof in the upcoming season but team discipline and attitude does make a difference. Which got me thinking about just how are the Gators’ opponents faring this offseason?
So I went web surfing researching arrest around the SEC. First, I want to qualify this up front, while I have searched multiple key words this is not a comprehensive list by any means. These are just the ones I found through a fairly simple web search.
With the DUI arrest of DL Jarran Reed, Alabama has had at least four arrests in 2014. The Tide had four players arrested and dismissed in early 2013. Is it possible that things are starting to slip out of Nick Saban’s control in Tuscaloosa? Saban seemed to have his players on lock-down before then. There was seldom any sign that things were not all rosy at Alabama. Along with Reed, three running backs have had brushes with the law this year.
I found three 2014 arrests for Missouri led by the arrest and dismissal of star receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. Green-Beckham had multiple issues arise. The Tigers’ issues have included the basketball team as well putting Missouri in a tie with Georgia for the most student-athletes arrested in the SEC since July 1 2012 at 16. The Tigers are certain to feel the loss of Green-B eckham.
Speaking of Georgia, the Bulldogs have had their share of arrests this offseason resulting in the loss of three defensive backs. Troubled Tray Mathews is transferring to Auburn while Shaq Wiggins and Josh Harvey-Clemons will end up joining underachieving defensive coordinator Todd Grantham at Louisville. And people wonder why I have been so against any thoughts of bring Bobby Pitrino to Florida. Hmmm.
Texas A&M has had seven arrests since the end of the 2013 season. The Aggies dismissed LB Darian Claiborne and DL Isaiah Golden following February arrests. Head Coach Kevin Sumlin probably needs to put in some overtime stabilizing the program after the departure of out of control Johnny Manziel.
Tennessee had a cool dozen current and former football players arrested or cited in one sitting back in February related to underage drinking. Of course, underage drinking is hardly breaking news at a university and there won’t be any long term effects from this incident. LSU had defensive back Jalen Mills arrested for second-degree battery and dismissed from the team. Kentucky had a player arrested in January, South Carolina one in March and Auburn one in June. The list seems to go on and on. Arkansas had three players arrested in June for burglarizing dorm rooms. Mississippi State had an arrest for burglary and Ole Miss had one for disorderly conduct.
Of the fourteen Southeastern Conference schools, Vanderbilt and Florida were the only teams that did have any brushes with the law. Not that is just Vandy. Of course, there could be arrests I didn’t find. And don’t fool yourself, this is not confined to the SEC. The Miami Hurricanes just had two players arrested for sexual assault, FSU has dismissed two players this year and don’t even get me started on Jameis Winston. Ohio State has just suspended DB Tracy Sprinkle for cocaine and rioting charges following a bar brawl.
The problem is clearly rampant throughout colleges everywhere. Thus, I consider Florida’s relatively quiet offseason to be an accomplishment that Will Muschamp should get some credit for since the program seemed to be in need of some severe cleaning up when he arrived. Again, there is almost two months left before the season and the Gators could get hit hard with arrests between now and then, but hopefully not. I would like to think that this is a sign that this team has some player leadership and its head in the right place in July. We shall see. Until practice starts, no news is good news.