Is Florida one to judge?

It is often said that fan-bases take on the persona of their head coach. NoleDigest takes a look at some occurrences this week in terms of an article written this week with E.J. Manuel, the bashing of players Urban Meyer publicly expressed this week after their bowl loss to Michigan and discusses if the situation in Gainesville is as great as "Gator Nation" professes.

What's Up with E.J. Manuel?

Friday afternoon we briefly spoke to E.J. about the article that came out from that infamous site FSU fans are aware of. When asked about it, Manuel said, "Man, some guys came up to me and just said they were reporters. They asked me about the scandal and I told them my thoughts. I had no idea they were from a Florida site. Had I known that I would have stayed away from that. I know the FSU fan base doesn't like the Gators." It looks like Manuel was taken advantage of. To his knowledge, it was just another reporter trying to get an update with him. He was emphatic in apologizing, but it looks as though he isn't the one who should be apologizing; it's the unscrupulous, grubby reporters looking for information based off lies and untruth.

1% of the 1%?

When Urban Meyer came to Florida this quote became forever attached to his name while he coaches there. Claiming that he'll only accept the top 1% of the 1% of players across the nation, Meyer put his decisions about his players out in the limelight. Needless to say, it hasn't panned out for him. As Nole fans we've had to sit and listen to the endless bantering from websites like Gator Country as they wax poetic about the greatness that is UF football. Quick to point out everything that occurs in Tallahassee, it is quite possible that Florida is the most in need of looking in the preverbal mirror. As overall football fans, it's debatable as to which team is worse: the Gators or Bengals.

Topping of a run that has yet to be seen in years, starting defensive end Jermaine Cunningham and former Gator Jon Demps were arrested for assault when they were forced to pay for a bag of potato chips. Maybe it's a case of entitlement they gained when they were being recruited. After all, wasn't it Chris Rainey who professed about the numerous gifts and cash he was receiving from Gator Alumni? Any who, the arrests of Cunningham and Demps put the Gator program into double-digits. Below is just a highlight of the arrests and drug problems under Meyer's tenure as head coach:

• Jarvis Moss, the star defensive end from last year's title team, salvaged the team's season blocking a last second field goal against South Carolina. Soon after the game it was announced that Moss had failed drug tests during the summer. He missed the tough non-conference game against Western Carolina.

Marcus Thomas failed numerous drug tests for marijuana and GHB, yet miraculously was cleared to play during a stretch run that aided the Gators to the title.

Brandon James was busted with marijuana during a drug bust, where he had less than 20 grams of marijuana. His indefinite suspension lasted one game versus Western Kentucky.

• Dorian Monroe decided that he was above the law, removing a parking boot from his car and putting it in his trunk. Remember, Florida was thin at defensive back, thus it was swept away.

Ronnie Wilson, the one of AK-47 fame, at least was held out this season. But, it wasn't due to the harsh penalties from Coach Meyer, it was the state law enforcement. Firing automatic weapons at people often leads to that.

• Defensive back seems to be an area of concern. Safety Jamar Hornsby had a sworn complaint filed against him in April after he allegedly tossed a man onto the hood of a woman's car in a parking lot. Safety John Curtis was arrested in May on a probation violation stemming from his failure to complete five days of community service for an alcohol possession charge. Cornerback Jacques Rickerson was charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession in May. The old adage that those in glass houses shouldn't throw stones should become a permanent fixture throughout the "Gator Nation". Is there a win at all cost mentality going on in Gainesville? Between the arrests, drugs and other problems going on it looks like that 1% quote can now become a punch line for fans throughout the nation.

The "Quote"

After the recent bowl loss to Michigan, quotes came out from Urban Meyer regarding some of his departing players. It is still debatable what was said, but here is the quote that has caused some questioning on how truthful and dedicated Meyer is to the players that helped him win a national title, and others who'll play for him down the road:

"Well, for those guys who just put in their time and didn't make any real contributions, it's time for you to go. It won't be hard to say goodbye to some of those guys who just went through the motions. Now for those kids who actually bought into the program, and who made some sacrifices and contributions -- you know, like Bubba Caldwell....he's a graduate of UF and had a great career -- you'll really miss those guys. But just because you're a senior doesn't mean you have any value."

Think about that for a second. Here is a coach at a national program bashing the kids who've given 4-5 years to the school, guys who have committed themselves everyday to ensure that Meyer keeps his job. After all, these are students trying to earn an education. Is this an example of a coach who cares about nothing more than winning? Flashing lights and warning signs should be present with this outlandish statement. Never mind the fact these kids went through a coaching change and helped turn around a program that was being dominated by their rivals. I guess the 10-5 record against Georgia, FSU and Tennessee is all Meyer, right? Instead of supporting his players and being the coach and role model they need, Meyer is a guy who is quickly showing to be a guy who'll throw players under the bus. Anyway to avoid criticism I guess.

Meyer has used a recruiting pitch that early playing time is available. From Ahmad Black, Jamar Hornsby, Deonte Thompson and on, several guys were told they'd see the field once they get on campus. A perfect example of the coaches at Florida telling recruits what they want to hear is Bo Williams, a guy who enrolled early to ensure the playing time he was told he'd get this past season. This is a quote taken from him after he committed in December of 2006: "It all came down to the conversations with the coaches from each school. And what stood out to me the most was Coach Drayton, the running backs coach at Florida. He sat down and told me how good I could be on the field and how successful I would be at the next level. But he also told me that not only can he make me become an outstanding athlete on the field, he would take me and develop me and make me become a young man."

Funny is it that Bo Williams is one of several players looking to leave the program this year.

While Gator fans will sit and give excuses or spin the details of what is going on, there is no denying that it seems like the UF staff flat out lies to these kids. Here is a quote from Trent Pupello (a player they initially compared to Jeremy Shockey), who is looking to leave the program this year: "Coach (Steve) Addazio (UF tight ends coach) told me to work on my speed," Pupello said. "He didn't say that my speed was slow or anything. He just said that everything (at this level) is faster. I need to work on speed and getting stronger, which is pretty much what we all need to work on. He said that they need me at tight end, that I'll have an early chance to play and that all of the tight ends will play on the special teams."

The examples are endless. Who is next to fall to the wayside at UF? As a prospects kids need to be careful in listening to what Meyer and his staff have to say. While focusing more on his rivals and why kids shouldn't go there, it looks as though the image of the ‘next great coach' is tarnishing and his program is beginning to have severe problems. Instead of wrapping themselves up into what's going on in Tallahassee, Knoxville or Athens, maybe its time that the UF brethren come to terms that they are a program with relentless criminal issues and players jumping ship. If Florida was the great place they claim to be, surely these kids wouldn't leave. Or maybe it is, and its time to stop acting like spin doctors and face facts: The University of Florida is the new "Thug U".

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