The end of spring football marks the beginning of the long offseason for the Florida Gators. This is often a nervous time for college football fans and coaches alike as young men with lots of time on their hands and little direct supervision can often find themselves afoul of the law.
Player arrests are a black eye for any high profile program. And for the Florida Gators it didn’t take very long at all.
Redshirt freshman defensive back J.C. Jackson was arrested in the early hours of Sunday morning for an armed robbery that took place Saturday evening at a Gainesville apartment complex.
With Jackson fighting for a spot in a deep and talented defensive secondary, it’s head-scratching to me that he would make such a poor choice.
This isn’t the usual dumb mistake made in a drunken moment. This was a deliberate crime committed with premeditation, assuming, of course, the statements made in the arrest reports are true.
If they are indeed true, his career at Florida is over. Even if a plea deal were to be made which would keep him out of prison, there’s no way new head coach Jim McElwain could keep him on scholarship.
While I’m not in the zero tolerance camp, college age young men make dumb mistakes all the time, the seriousness of the accusations give coach Mac little leeway here.
I am rooting for the kid, however. He’s one of the most talented players on the team and one of the gems of the Gators 2014 recruiting class and a personal favorite after flipping his commitment from Florida State.
False accusations are made every day and I’m hoping that is the case here. But for now, this case has created a serious black eye on the Gator program.
On a positive note, how about the Gators gymnastics team pulling off the three-peat over the weekend?
— Gator Gymnastics (@GatorZoneGym) April 19, 2015
They won the title by the slightest of margins (197.850 to Utah’s 197.800) but a win is a win and for head coach Rhonda Faehn it’s further proof that she has created a dynasty in Gainesville.
What’s her secret?
How about pants?
“I have worn my white pants for three National Championship titles… I have been told to never get rid of the white pants,” Faehn tweeted on Saturday.
But seriously, I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here by saying that coach Faehn and her girls have really caught the attention of Gator Nation. Tough to do at a football school like Florida, just ask Billy Donovan.
It’s further proof that Florida is an everything-school.
The Gators gymnastics team joins the men’s indoor team track team (2010-2012) as the only Gators teams to win three consecutive titles.
it was the 34th team national championship in the history of Gators athletics, 25 of which have been won since Jeremy Foley took over as Athletics Director in 1992.
Speaking of Foley, is there a more underrated AD in America? Of course, he’s not underrated among his colleagues or with the media, but among the fan base he is still often the subject of ridicule.
Mostly because, to many fans, football is everything. The hiring of both Ron Zook and Will Muschamp still doesn’t sit well with many.
It is curious why he hired two head coaches with no prior head coach experience to steer such a high profile program. However, with Muschamp being the head coach-in-waiting at Texas at the time his hiring was not as curious as it looks right now. It was no more risky than promoting Jimbo Fisher at FSU.
Both were highly respected coordinators who worked under Nick Saban and both we’re considered up-and-coming head coaching candidates. One hire worked out well and the other… Well it got us Jim McElwain.
So, perhaps, in a few years we’ll look back and thank Foley for that.
For now, there’s 25 other reasons to thank him.
The Gators athletics program had always been a sleeping giant. It took a man with vision, principle, and a solid plan to awaken that beast and set the program on a course to excellence and national prominence.
That man is Jeremy Foley.
Whether you love him, hate him, or could simply care less, you cannot deny the overall success of the Gators athletics programs since he took over as AD in 1992.
Besides gymnastics, the Gators have top ten programs up and down the board.
The softball team won their first World Series title last season after being a two-time runner-up ( 2009, 2011) and are currently 39-4 and top ranked in NCAA RPI rankings.
The baseball team has made seven consecutive NCAA appearances, a school record, and made three straight trips to the College World Series from 2010-2012.
The men’s indoor track and field team finished as runners-up this season and and it is perrenially a top team nationally under head coach Mike Holloway. The women’s team finished fourth in the finals this season as well.
The basketball team, despite a dip last season in a rebuilding year, followed three consecutive Elite Eight appearances with a Final Four appearance in 2014.
Throw in soccer, golf, swimming/diving, and lacrosse, which has been a top team since it’s inception, and the Gators athletics is marked by excellence from top to bottom.
This is not by accident.
Foley set out from the start to raise the level of competition within the athletics program by hiring strong coaches with the same vision for success. For the most part, other than women’s basketball and the two football hires, he’s been highly successful at it.
Speaking of success, one of the most successful quarterbacks in Gator history, Tim Tebow, appears to be back in the NFL for one more go round. Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reported on Sunday that the Philadelphia Eagles, who recently worked out Tebow, are set to sign him to a contract on Monday.
Scoopage: The Eagles are plannng to bring in Tim Tebow and sign him tomorrow as they begin their offseason program FOX SPORTS has learned
— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) April 19, 2015
If so, it will be the fourth NFL stop of his career after playing for the Denver Broncos who drafted him initially, the New York Jets, where he was a back up QB, and New England where he was signed but waived during training camp.
It’s unclear if they really believe he has a chance to make the roster in the fall or if it is an offseason signing designed to push the other three qb’s they have on the roster.
Eagles looking for a fourth QB for their offseason program but it's Tebows best chance to get back in the league
— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) April 19, 2015
Eagles spent time w Tebows qb coach Tom House and are convinced he's improved a lot. if he hasn't no harm no foul as they have roster spots
— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) April 19, 2015
I’m personally rooting for the guy but the odds are against him at this point with arm strength, footwork, and a poor throwing motion being his major drawbacks. Unfortunately, those are huge drawbacks.
We all know what a great competitor he is. Heck, he virtually willed the Broncos to the playoffs and a playoff victory while there and his performance against rival FSU in the rain in Tallahassee in 2008 was legendary.
But in the NFL the difference between success and failure is often the smallest of margins and his shortcomings may be too large.
If there’s a coach that can make him successful it’s Chip Kelly in Philadelphia. His offense hasn’t really had a true running threat at QB, which is a necessity in a spread option system.
Most likely, though, Tebow, if he sticks, will only be used situationally as a wildcat QB where his toughness in short yardage situations will give them an extra element.
For the young people, Swamp Music takes its name from a Lynyrd Skynyrd song of the same name. If you’re still clueless, Lynyrd (pronounced Leonard) Skynyrd is a southern rock band from the 1970′s a great decade for music but rather forgettable for Gator football. In fact, the two most memorable things about Gator football in the 70′s when I began following them were the Doug Dickey “Fourth and Dumb” gamble in 1976 and the winless 0-10-1 season in 1979.
While Gator football was languishing, Skynyrd was blowing up the charts with songs such as Freebird and Sweet Home Alabama among many others. Check out the boys from Jacksonville, Florida if you haven’t already.
That’s all for this week but Swamp Music will return next week with the latest musings on the world of Gator athletics.