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Zoop’s Scoop: Football players more disciplined under Muschamp’s tenure

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Posted: Tuesday, August 26, 2014 11:07 pm

We all know Will Muschamp hasn’t yet attained the success that Urban Meyer did in his tenure at the University of Florida.

But there is one thing Muschamp has done better than his coaching predecessor: instill discipline in his players.

I’m not saying each and every player under Meyer failed to follow the straight and narrow, but it doesn’t take that much digging to find the dirt the former UF coach had to continually sweep under the rug.

During Urban Meyer’s six seasons at the helm, 31 players were arrested. Now for those of you who have been keeping count of Gators arrested under Muschamp like I have, you might be saying, ‘But isn’t Muschamp on the same pace as Meyer since he has had 15 players arrested/cited in just three seasons?’

That’s a fair observation. But let me counter.

Janoris Jenkins, Chris Martin and Kedric Johnson were all arrested during Muschamp’s first month as head coach. Meyer — not Muschamp — recruited all three players.

Leon Orr, A.C. Leonard and Trip Thurman were also arrested while Muschamp has held the head coach position, but all three also committed to UF when Meyer was still recruiting for the Gators.

After Muschamp cut Jenkins and urged others like De’Ante Saunders and Dee Finley to transfer, it not only became clear to me that Muschamp valued discipline more than Meyer, but it also became clear to the players.

After Jenkins was dismissed, the cornerback said, "If (Meyer) was still the coach at Florida, I’d still be there."

Former UF safety Bryan Thomas said Meyer’s team was "out of control."

Fast forward to 2014.

Freshman Jalen Tabor became the first UF player in nearly a year to run into legal trouble after being cited for marijuana possession of less than 20 grams. And this came back in May when Tabor wasn’t even attending classes at Florida.

During the Gators media day on Aug. 3, Muschamp addressed why his team had been staying out of trouble this offseason.

"It’s a daily continual education for your players, and I think it goes back to recruiting, part of the evaluation process and taking the right guys, number one," Muschamp said. "Then number two, doing a good job as far as your structure is concerned on your campus so guys understand there is going to be consequences. And they understand to stay within the lines of what we need to do and how they’re going to act and represent the University of Florida."

I know Muschamp hasn’t produced the same type of winning culture that Meyer did in his five years in Gainesville, but you have to respect how Muschamp is putting the standards and values of the university in front of winning games.

Could you say the same about Meyer?

No.

The discussion always returns to the old cliché, "Winning isn’t everything." Of course fans want to see more wins, more championship trophies and more First-Team All-Americans.

But at what cost? These athletes aren’t just athletes. They’re students. They’re members of our community. They’re people that should be held to the same standards that you and I are held to.

I know football is king — especially in the south — but it’s ridiculous to stick up for a man like Meyer who places a sport above basic human values. Now listen to Muschamp’s final comment about the discipline issue and tell me if you still want to run him out of Gainesville.

"I always tell players they’re going to make mistakes," Muschamp said. "They’re going to make some poor choices and decisions, but help me help you. If you are willing to work with me, I’m willing to work with anybody. I’ll give you the shirt off my back to help you. And it’s through a growing process as a college student. So our guys, in my opinion, have bought into that.

"They understand that we’re here to help them. They don’t buck at that very much and I think they have done a nice job for the most part."

Follow Jonathan Czupryn on Twitter @Jczupryn

Welcome to the discussion.