Florida planned to suspend three players — receiver Demarcus Robinson and defensive linemen Darious Cummings and Jay-nard Bostwick — for its season opener against Idaho last Saturday. The Idaho game lasted one play. After a weather delay, the Gators returned the opening kickoff. Then came another weather delay, which became a postponement and ultimately a cancellation.
Florida coach Will Muschamp announced this week that the three suspended Gators would be available for this week’s game against Eastern Michigan, their penance apparently having been served by sitting out an opening kickoff. Asked about this odd decision on Wednesday’s SEC teleconference, Muschamp — “Coach Boom” to those in the know — went boom.
From Edgar Thompson of the Orlando Sentinel comes this Muschamp response:
It’s not just about suspending players for games. There’s a lot things that go into discipline. It’s about altering and changing behavior, which we’ve done. I think our discipline speaks for itself and how we’ve handled our football team, OK? If it was about suspension, you’d never have an issue. Right?
At the the end of the day, it’s more than that. There’s a lot of things that go into those situations, a lot more than people know. And it’s very frustrating for me as a coach … to have someone being critical and you don’t even have all the information. 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.
I have no idea what Muschamp meant when he said, “If it was about suspension, you’d never have an issue.” Then again, I’ve often had no idea what Muschamp is doing — and I’m not sure he does, either. He’s on his third offensive coordinator in four seasons at Florida. Last year’s Gators went 4-8, the worst Florida had done since 1979. Muschamp is 0-3 against Georgia, his alma mater. (Ron Zook, by way of contrast, was 2-1 against the Bulldogs.)
At the end of the day, to invoke a Muschamp line, he has been a terrible hire and was lucky not to be fired last year. He has definitely — another Boom-ism — altered and changed the way people look at Florida football.
We used to see the Gators as one of the nation’s mightiest programs, the hated opponent Georgia couldn’t beat. Under Muschamp, Florida is 0-3 against Georgia, his alma mater, and 0-1 against Georgia Southern. At the end of the day, he’s overmatched.
Oh, and one thing more: Students of SEC history will remember another one-play suspension, this one coming against the Gators in 1987. The NCAA was investigating Auburn quarterback Jeff Burger on the allegation that he’d accepted an extra benefit. (He’d flown on a private plane, owned by an Alabama county commissioner named Johnny Mack Weed, to go hunt doves. It had been quite a year for the Cedartown native, who’d also been charged with plagiarism and public intoxication.)
Burger didn’t play against Mississippi State while the investigation was ongoing. After he was ruled ineligible by the NCAA, Auburn appealed for his reinstatement. It was granted, but Auburn said it would impose an in-house penalty because Burger didn’t cooperate with the NCAA. (Fancy that.)
Both the Gators and the Tigers were ranked in the top 10 for a Saturday night affair at Jordan-Hare. Reggie Slack, Burger’s backup, took the field for the game’s first snap. He fumbled it. Burger sprinted out to take the next one. (Said one press-box wag: “If Burger had gotten out there any faster, he’d have recovered the fumble.”) Auburn won 29-6.
“I was in a no-win situation,” Auburn coach Pat Dye said afterward, and many folks laughed out loud. Much as we’re laughing at Coach Boom’s iron-fisted “discipline” now.
From last fall: Florida’s Muschamp should already be gone.
And also this: Georgia should be thankful for Will Muschamp.