“Do you know who I am? I am a UF football player. I am Antonio.”
That’s what Florida linebacker Antonio Morrison told a bouncer at the Kava Lounge early Sunday morning, according to Gainesville Police Department spokesman Ben Tobias.
If you hadn’t already heard, Morrison was arrested after punching that bouncer in the head when he didn’t allow Morrison free entry into the club, according to a police report.
Is that the kind of culture being perpetuated at Florida?
Former coach Urban Meyer was criticized for letting the players run the team and not exerting enough control over his players off the field.
On the other hand, Will Muschamp was praised early in his tenure at Florida for getting his players in line. Muschamp was the no-nonsense leader. He was going to fix UF football’s attitude problem.
He even made a statement early in his head coaching career, opting to dismiss All-Southeastern Conference cornerback Janoris Jenkins from the team after Jenkins’ second arrest for marijuana possession in a three-month span.
But since Muschamp took over as the Gators’ head coach in January 2011, 14 UF players have been arrested or cited – an average of more than five players a year. That’s not the kind of statistic that wins bowl games.
He’s quickly approaching former coach Urban Meyer’s gaudy total of 30 players arrested. Meyer averaged five players arrested per year.
The best you can say for Muschamp is that most of the players under his watch were arrested for nonviolent crimes. Most were arrested for possessing alcohol or marijuana. However, there have been more serious crimes under Muschamp.
Tight end A.C. Leonard was charged with battery. Leonard was arrested in February 2012 after he a fight with his girlfriend.
Offensive lineman Jessamen Dunker was arrested for grand theft auto in January.
Where does it end? Where does it even begin? Are the players who come to Florida thugs, or is the atmosphere conducive to players thinking they can do what they want?
Is the Kava Lounge cover too damn high?
Or maybe it’s the fans.
Maybe it’s the treatment that Morrison and other players get from regular fans and boosters that make them think they’re the kings of Gainesville.
Morrison thought he deserved to walk into a club, free of charge. Morrison is a sophomore linebacker who has started three games at UF. He’s not quite Tim Tebow.
Most people don’t seem to care what players do off the field if they perform on Saturdays. But we’ve seen what happens when a program gets too big for its own good, when people turn a blind eye to what happens behind the scenes: People get hurt.
Muschamp needs to right his ship instead of just blowing smoke.
Contact Adam Lichtenstein firstname.lastname@example.org.