Hate Mail: Many ways to make grade -- or not
But this happens at the University of Florida, not just a school, but my school, and I don't laugh.
|Urban Meyer and Gators everywhere should be embarrassed with Florida's 24 arrests in four years. (Getty Images)|
This has to stop. And it has to stop now. Florida has won two national championships in four years under Meyer, but that's not enough to justify 24 arrests in those same four years. Four titles in four years wouldn't justify 24 arrests. Five titles in four years wouldn't do it. It can't be done. There is no justifying something like this.
And for me, for a change, this is personal. The typical reader e-mail, after a story like the above link on Tennessee's Lane Kiffin, says something like this:
Dude, what did Lane Kiffin do to you? You write like it's personal or something.
Wrong. Kiffin did nothing to me, and that wasn't personal. Some of the things he has done, like some of the things at Penn State or Florida State or USC, are outrageous -- and so I write with outrage. But it's not personal. It's never personal.
But this story? About Florida? This is personal.
Even as a Florida graduate, class of 1992, I don't ask much of the Gators on the field. Win a national title or not, I don't care. Really. Don't care. Recruit All-Americans or don't. Go to bowl games or not. That stuff doesn't reflect on me. I can't contribute to it, so I don't get worked up.• Florida CB Jenkins arrested, Tased
But this stuff reflects on me. Twenty-four arrests in four years? That reflects on me, and on every Florida alumnus out there. I'm getting worked up for a change, because -- stupidly -- I think I can contribute to this. To stopping this. Maybe.
Looking the other way won't do it. Urban Meyer has already tried that. Meyer has come down harder on Auburn and Tennessee this offseason than he has on his own rogue program. Florida fans will tell you he hasn't looked the other way. They'll say Meyer has brought in guest speakers to talk to his team, and that he himself has talked to his team. He has probably made them run extra wind sprints, that animal.
But he hasn't really done anything. He certainly hasn't done enough to stop this nonsense. And if Meyer won't take care of business on his own, maybe the sound of angry voices -- like mine, and more people like me -- will shake him up.
And you, too, Tim Tebow.
Do something. Say something. When Tebow makes a speech in September after a loss to Ole Miss, Gators everywhere get fired up. He vows that "you will never see someone push the rest of the team as hard as I will push everybody the rest of the season." And then when he leads the Gators to the national championship, his speech becomes The Speech. It is carved, literally, in steel. The Speech is posted now and forevermore on a brick wall outside of Florida Field.
Now would be a good time for another speech. Something about 24 arrests being 24 too many. If Tebow is half the leader, half the great man that people inside and outside that locker room insist he is, his words would make an impact.
But this isn't on Tebow. It would be nice if he used his exceptional platform and persona to at least try to stop this insanity, but that's not Tebow's job. It's Meyer's job. And more than any coach of any troubled program in the history of college football, he has the power to stop those troubles right now.
Seriously. Meyer could do it. He has won two national titles in the last three years, and he has the location and facilities and tradition to recruit at the highest level every year. He could win five national titles in the next 10 years.
Parkerboys: You hear that, Florida Gators? Next time you are thinking about doing something that can get you in trouble, you better think twice. Because you are "REPRESENTING" Gregg Doyel! Every time you guys get arrested, (people) think, "Man, I wonder how this is affecting Gregg Doyel?" Because we all obviously make that connection!
He was gracious enough to be a nobody in college, just so that when he did dumb stuff, it wouldn't affect anyone but him. Either don't do anything wrong, or be a nobody. Take your pick!
|Gregg Doyel: Funny, Parker. I get it. But two things. 1. I wasn't nobody in college. I couldn't be nobody if I tried. I'm that charismatic, handsome and talented. It's a curse, but I can handle it. 2. Would it really be so hard to be a Florida football player and not get arrested? Really, now. Would it be that hard?|
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He is in the absolutely unique position -- because of what he already has done, because of what he still will do -- of being able to sacrifice an entire season, if need be, to make his point. Clearly this is easier for me to say than for the typical alumnus, because the typical alumnus cares what happens on the field. Me, I don't care what happens on the field. That stuff comes and goes. But what happens off the field ... that stuff lingers.
The lingering, and the malingering -- and the assaulting and battering and drunken driving and stealing and ... -- has to end. And it could end, even in a town like Gainesville, where a Florida Gator isn't merely a football player. He's not a student. He's a god, untouchable, especially as the arrest toll reaches 20, and then flies past 20, and nothing of consequence happens.
Florida's administration can't stop it. The recession is killing endowments and donations everywhere, but the University of Florida continues to roll along toward its $1.5 billion fundraising campaign, Florida Tomorrow -- in large part, no doubt, because of alumni pride over those national championships. Hey, I didn't make this ridiculous world. I just live here. But Meyer is the Gators' Golden Goose, and Florida isn't about to tell him how to run his program.
So it's up to Meyer to stop this stuff now. Tell the team there won't be a 25th arrest, not under your watch. Not before the 2009 season starts. Not even before it ends. And if there is a 25th arrest, well, see ya. Anyone arrested from this point on -- and this goes for No. 26 and No. 27 and onward -- is kicked off the team. No exceptions. If a Bible falls out of Tim Tebow's backpack and he's arrested on charges of littering, sorry. But he's gone.
Let these players, these stupid kids, know they're not untouchable. They're not gods. They're representatives of the University of Florida, representing more than every book and building on that campus. They're representing every Florida student, past and present.
And I'm sick of the way these dumbasses are representing me.