Three hours before Florida was set to kick off against Idaho, Will Muschamp announced that Jay-nard Bostwick, Darious Cummings and Demarcus Robinson would miss the first game of the season due to suspension.
Weather didn’t permit a game but Muschamp felt that the players had served out their suspensions and reinstated them to play this week against Eastern Michigan.
“We did have Darious Cummings and Jay-nard Bostwick suspended for the first game for a violation of team rules. They will be back this week with us,” Muschamp said on Monday. “Not just as far as the suspension of a game, but they’ve handled a lot of other things for me, as well as Demarcus Robinson, who had a university sanction that’s been resolved.”
Muschamp drew the ire of the sporting world for the decision. Denver Post columnist and ESPN television personality Woody Paige called the move “the biggest, lamest thing I’ve heard ever” on ESPN’s Around the Horn.
Kevin Sumlin faced a similar situation two years ago. Sumlin — in his first year as the head coach at Texas A&M — reinstated the players after a hurricane postponed the first game of the season.
Muschamp was asked on the SEC teleconference Wednesday what went into that decision and the head ball coach took exception to people questioning his reasoning.
“It’s not just about suspending players for games, OK?” Muschamp said, his tone starting to turn. “There are a lot of things that go into discipline.”
In the past, Muschamp has kept a lot of the discipline that goes into a suspension in-house. He’s not so concerned about players missing games — that may be a tool he uses to caution against bad behavior but it isn’t the end goal when it comes to players getting in trouble.
“It’s about altering and changing behavior which we’ve done here. I think our discipline speaks for itself and how we’ve handled our football team, OK?” said Muschamp. “So it’s not just about missing games, if it was just about suspensions, you never have an issue, right? So I mean at the end of the day it’s more than that and there are a lot of things that go into those situations, a lot more than people know.”
Latroy Pittman was suspended last season. He served out his suspension. Despite having earned a suspension from his head coach, Pittman thinks Muschamp is more than fair in the way he handles his football team.
“When we’re about business we’re about business. He also can also cut back and have fun it’s not all like military style and all that,” he said. “He’s the kind of coach that you want to make plays for and one you don’t want to disappoint. I can tell you that.”
Pittman has bounced back from his suspension and a disappointing season in 2013 to earn a starting role in the new offense.
To his credit, the Florida program has been much cleaner under Muschamp than in the past. The Gators have had just one incident that was recorded in the past 409 days.
“It’s very frustrating for me as a coach or any coach to have someone being critical and you don’t even have all the information,” Muschamp said. “So at the end of the day I make the decisions in this program I handle the discipline in this program and it’s been handled very well.”