Will Grier has tested positive for a substance that is on the NCAA’s list of banned supplement. For that indiscretion, by NCAA Bylaw 18.104.22.168 he Is subject to at least a one-year suspension and loss of eligibility. Grier has admitted to purchasing and using a substance without first consulting with the Florida medical and training staff to check its legality. By NCAA rules, his positive test for a supplement on the banned substance list means he’s done for 2015 and could be ineligible the first half of the 2016 season as well.
Grier and Florida will appeal the suspension but history tells us the NCAA will keep the suspension in place the remainder of the 2015 season. If the NCAA believes Florida’s in-house investigation confirming Grier’s explanation that he simply took a substance without checking its legality and Grier passes all future drug tests, then it’s highly likely he will be reinstated for the 2016 season. There is plenty of precedent to indicate Grier’s suspension won’t carry over to next season.
The original intent of the NCAA rule is athlete safety and keeping the playing field level. Those of you who know me well are aware that I have never spared my feelings about this organization that I believe to be every bit as corrupt as any political entity this country has ever seen. For all the corruption and ineptitude by the NCAA, however, I do agree with rules against using illegal and performance enhancement drugs (PEDs) but I question the severity of the punishment for Will Grier and for other first time offenders who used over-the-counter substances that are easily purchased at your neighborhood Walmart or health food store.
Why does an athlete receive a single game suspension for a first offense positive test for marijuana or cocaine yet face a 1-year suspension for first offense positive test for an over-the-counter (OTC) supplement? The NCAA can invoke an ignorance clause – no excuse for ignorance because compliance folks preach until they are blue in the face to ask the training and medical staff before purchasing and using an OTC – but the severity of the punishment in this case far outweighs the severity of the crime. The NCAA takes a one size fits all approach to its punishment standard rather than consider each case individually and that is wrong no matter how hard the NCAA tries to defend the policy. You don’t sentence a shoplifter to hard time and this is the equivalent of shoplifting.
Consider the following:
1. Grier has been on campus since January of 2014. He was 183 pounds when he showed up on campus and is currently listed at 203. A 20-pound weight gain over a 22-month span is not unusual. During the time he’s been on campus, Grier and every other UF scholarship athlete has been administered dozens of drug tests. If he had been using a PED all along, it’s highly unlikely he would have gone this long without flunking a test.
2. Grier has been a model of decorum at UF. By all accounts, he’s polite, follows the rules, goes to class and makes good grades, and doesn’t get into trouble off the field. It’s not like he has a history of troubles with drugs, alcohol or PEDs or that he’s had emotional or character issues.
3. There have never been any accusations that, like a certain 6-5, 315-pound left tackle from Lake City which NFL scouts drool over, Grier has received any illegal benefits either during his recruitment to UF or since arriving on campus.
Yet, those who have flunked a test for marijuana – even on his own team – have received 1-game suspensions and that tackle is likely to be reinstated this week. And Grier gets a year for an OTC supplement? Does that make sense?
So suspend Will Grier a game for using a banned substance and if you want to pour it on, throw in another game for ignorance of the law. But a year? That’s ridiculous.
IT’S TREON’S TIME NOW
If Treon Harris manages to leave Tiger Stadium with a win under his belt Saturday night, we’ll be singing the praises of Jim McElwain for handling the quarterback situation perfectly and Harris for showing up to work every day and never losing sight of the fact he was one injury or one suspension away from regaining his starting job.
It’s a tall order for any visiting team quarterback to win under the lights in Baton Rouge, but Harris has the benefit of seven previous starts (5-2 record) and he’s won on as big a stage (Florida-Georgia in Jacksonville) as there is in college football regular season play. While he might be a tad rusty from game inactivity – he hasn’t thrown a pass since the second half of the East Carolina game – he’s practiced hard and has the complete confidence of McElwain and his teammates. They trusted him last year. They’ll trust him again.
Give McElwain credit for letting it be known since practice began back in August that he had no fear of thrusting Treon into any situation. Even when he was going with Grier as his starter, Mac made it perfectly clear that he trusted Treon Harris to step in and play well. By all accounts, he never let Treon feel like he was being shoved out the door.
COUNTDOWN TO FIRING DAY UPDATE
Just one day after forcing Steve Sarkisian to take an indefinite leave of absence, Southern Cal terminated his contract. Offensive coordinator Clay Helton will serve as interim coach for the Trojans (3-2, 1-2 Pac-12) the rest of the season. With Sarkisian gone, speculation for his replacement is likely to center around Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly and Alabama head coach Nick Saban. Kelly’s NCAA show cause expired back in December so he can coach college football again. His familiarity with the Pac-12 from his Oregon days would make him an ideal candidate. Saban has indicated that Alabama is his last coaching gig but he’s said similar things before and bolted. Should Alabama lose to Texas A&M Saturday the Crimson Tide would in all likelihood be out of the running for another national championship for a third straight year. Would that stir the Saban wanderlust?
THE SEC IN NCAA STATS
Scoring (points per game): (5) Ole Miss 46.8; (15) Texas A&M 39.2; (20) LSU 37.8; (23, Tie) Georgia 37.2, Tennessee 37.2; (39) Alabama 34.7; (46) Mississippi State 32.3; (47) Florida 32.2; (87, Tie) Kentucky 26.0; (95) Auburn 24.6; (99) Arkansas 23.8; (109) Vanderbilt 21.2; (111, Tie) South Carolina 20.7; (122) Missouri 18.3
Rushing (yards per game/per attempt): (3) LSU 346.4/7.19; (15) Georgia 231.5; (21) Tennessee 222.0; (48) Auburn 190.0/4.44; (49) Alabama 188.8/4.61; (50) Ole Miss 188.3/5.33; (63, Tie) Arkansas 177.3/4.73; (70) South Carolina 170.8/4.72; (87) Vanderbilt 157.0/3.94; (90) Mississippi State150.0, 5.03; (100) Florida 138.7/3.75; (104) Kentucky 135.0/3.77; (112) Missouri 117.2/3.48
Passing (yards per game/per attempt): (11) Ole Miss 339.5/9.47; (23) Texas A&M 292.4/8.65; (28) Mississippi State 272.5/8.18; (35) Arkansas 256.0/8.78; (37) Vanderbilt 255.4/6.52; (45) Alabama 247.0/6.99; (47, Tie) Florida 246.0/7.77; (64) Kentucky 230.6/7.39; (77) Georgia 219.8/8.68; (81) Tennessee 212.7/7.05; (93) Missouri 194.3/5.77); (108) South Carolina 170.8/6.37; (113) Auburn 153.8/6.99; (122) LSU 122.0/6.78;
Total Offense (yards per game/per play): (11) Ole Miss 527.8/7.42; (20) Texas A&M 420.4; (24) LSU 468.4/7.08; (34) Georgia 451.3/7.34; (43) Alabama 435.8/5.71; (44) Tennessee 434.7/5.54; (46) Arkansas 433.3/6.50; (50 Mississippi State 422.5/6.69; (58) Vanderbilt 412.4/5.22; (84) Florida 384.7/5.60; (94) Kentucky 365.6/5.46; (105) Auburn 343.8/5.31; (107) South Carolina 341.7/5.42; (121) Missouri 311.5/4.63
Turnovers Lost: (1, Tie) LSU 1; (12, Tie) Florida 5, Tennessee 5; (23, Tie) Arkansas 6, Texas A&M 6; (36, Tie) Kentucky 7, Mississippi State 7, South Carolina 7; (50, Tie) Georgia 8, Missouri 8; (67, Tie) Auburn 9; (92, Tie) Vanderbilt 11; (103, Tie) Alabama 12; (108) Ole Miss 13
Sacks Allowed (total and yards lost): (12) Arkansas 5-29; (13, Tie) Georgia 6-36; (20, Tie) Mississippi State 7-50, Alabama 7-62; (29, Tie) Vanderbilt 6-35; (43, Tie) LSU 7-56; (51, Tie) Ole Miss 10-80, South Carolina 10-64); (60, Tie) Auburn 9-61; (63, Tie) Tennessee 11-89; (65, Tie) Missouri 12-83; (89, Tie) Florida 15-69; (96, Tie) Texas A&M 13-81; (117, Tie) Kentucky 16-116
Scoring (points per game): (9) Missouri 13.5; (11, Tie) Florida 14.3; (15. Tie) Alabama 15.7; (24) Mississippi State 17.7; (26) Vanderbilt 18.4; (31, Tie) Ole Miss 19.7; (40) Texas A&M 21.0; (46, Tie) Georgia 21.7; (48) Kentucky 21.8; (49, Tie) LSU 22.0; (54) Arkansas 23.2; (65) Auburn 25.4; (66, Tie) Tennessee 25.7; (85) South Carolina 29.0
Rushing (yards per game/per attempt): (4) Alabama 77.3/2.61; (12) Florida 99.2/3.05; (13) LSU 99.6/3.36; (20) Arkansas 107.0/3.49; (21) Vanderbilt 107.4/3.38; (24) Missouri 112.7/2.86; (40) Ole Miss 134.0/3.27; (43) Georgia 137.5; (73) Mississippi State 170.2/3.73; (74) Tennessee 170.5/4.61; (75) Kentucky 171.2/4.65; (85) Texas A&M/4.57; (106) South Carolina 207.7/5.46; (107) Auburn 209.6/5.21
Passing (yards per game/per attempt): (14) Missouri 163.2/5.76; (34) Alabama 187.2/5.08; (36) Mississippi State 190.8/6.40; (37) LSU 191.8/5.81; (38) Texas A&M 192.2/6.16; (41) Georgia 194.3/6.41; (43) Florida 197.2/5.66; (44) Kentucky 197.8/6.30; (50) Auburn 202.4/6.06; (51) Ole Miss 203.5/5.55; (59) Vanderbilt 213.4/5.93; (65) South Carolina 220.3/7.34; (92) Tennessee 248.5/7.03; (99) Arkansas 258.8/8.33
Total Defense (yards per game/per play): (6) Alabama 264.5/3.98; (11) Missouri 275.8/4.08; (14) LSU 291.4/4.65; (16, Tie) Florida 296.3/4.40; (25) Vanderbilt 320.8/4.56; (31) Georgia 331.8/4.79; (36) Ole Miss 337.5/4.35; (47) Mississippi State 361.0/4.78; (53) Arkansas 365.3/5.92; (55) Kentucky 368.4/5.13; (57) Texas A&M 374.8/5.26; (86) Auburn 412.0/5.60; (91) Tennessee 419.0/5.79; (98) South Carolina 428.0/6.29
Turnovers created: (13, Tie) Florida 13; (20, Tie) Alabama 12, Ole Miss 12; (55, Tie) Georgia 9, Missouri 9; (68, Tie) Arkansas 8, Tennessee 8, Texas A&M 8, Auburn 8; (83, Tie) Kentucky 7, LSU 7, South Carolina 7; (109, Tie) Vanderbilt 5, Mississippi State 5
Sacks (total and yards lost): (4) Texas A&M 19-105; (7, Tie) Florida 21-174; (16, Tie) Missouri 18-95; (19, Tie) Mississippi State 17-132; (28, Tie) Alabama 16-89; (41, Tie) LSU 12-77; (57, Tie) Kentucky 10-65; (77, Tie) Vanderbilt 9-55; (85, Tie) South Carolina 10-69; (95, Tie) Tennessee 9-52, Georgia 9-62, Ole Miss 9-62; (107, Tie) Auburn 7-45; (116, Tie) Arkansas 6-45
SEC PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Offensive Player of the Week: Joshua Dobbs, QB, Tennessee
Defensive Player of the Week: Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
Special Teams Player of the Week: Carlos Davis, PR/KR, Georgia
Freshman of the Week: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
Defensive Lineman of the Week: Ryan Brown, DE, Mississippi State
Offensive Lineman of the Week: Evan Pocic, C, LSU
#10 Alabama (5-1, 2-1 SEC): Nick Saban said the Crimson Tide is preparing to play more nickel and dime defense against Texas A&M. At his Monday press conference he noted that Alabama has done a better job this year in nickel and dime, giving up fewer big plays and doing a better job of stuffing the run.
Arkansas (2-4, 1-2 SEC): Arkansas has a week off and plenty of attention will be given to first down success. Against Alabama, the Razorbacks averaged only 2.9 yards per play on first down.
Auburn (3-2, 0-2 SEC): There is a possibility that Gus Malzahn will give Jeremy Johnson a chance to redeem himself Thursday night against Kentucky. There are whispers that Johnson regained his confidence during Auburn’s bye week and he’s ready to prove he can get the job done. Malzahn has not named a starting QB for the Kentucky game so it’s possible Johnson gets the nod.
Georgia (4-2, 2-2 SEC): The question moving forward is can Sony Michel sustain success now that he’s Georgia’s go to guy? It’s one thing to be the change of pace back for Nick Chubb. It’s something altogether different to be the guy who every defense the rest of the way will be keying on.
Kentucky (4-1, 2-1 SEC): The Wildcats spent their off week working on finishing plays defensively. “The biggest thing now is putting the quarterback down when we’ve gotten the opportunities,” says D-line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh.
#6 LSU (5-0, 3-0 SEC): When Florida comes to Tiger Stadium Saturday night, LSU will be facing a backup quarterback for the fourth consecutive game ... Cheap tickets for Florida-LSU are going for $135 in the upper deck nose bleed section and range all the way up to $1,200 on StubHub.
Mississippi State (4-2, 1-2 SEC): The Bulldogs are improving defensively, which is a good sign for Dan Mullen. Against Troy, Mullen said, “We had 11 guys on the field playing nasty. That’s the defense I want to play.”
Missouri (4-2, 1-2 SEC): Gary Pinkel declined to answer questions Monday about suspended quarterback Maty Mauk, which would indicate true freshman QB Drew Lock will start Saturday at Georgia.
#13 Ole Miss (5-1, 2-1 SEC): As the Rebels prepare for unbeaten Memphis, tight end Evan Engram is listed day-to-day as is center Robert Conyers. Running back Jaylen Walton, wide receiver Damore’ea Stringfellow and guard Justin Bell are all expected to play after missing the New Mexico State game.
South Carolina (2-4, 0-4 SEC): Injured QB Connor Mitch (separated shoulder) is expected back to practice this week so it’s possible he could play Saturday when the Gamecocks host Vanderbilt. Out for sure is freshman Lorenzo Nunez (shoulder sprain). Perry Orth and Michael Scarnecchia and likely the only two QBs who will dress for the game with Orth the likely starter.
Tennessee (3-3, 1-2 SEC): The bye week will allow a number of injured players to heal. Head coach Butch Jones anticipates right tackle Brett Kendrick (arm), wide receiver Marquez North (back), defensive lineman Kyle Phillips (shoulder), defensive tackle Shy Tuttle (ankle) and O-linemen Mack Crowder (ankle and Jashon Robertson (ankle) healthy for the Alabama game on October 24.
#9 Texas A&M (5-0, 2-0 SEC): The Aggies lost to Alabama 59-0 in Tuscaloosa last year. Head coach Kevin Sumlin dismisses last year’s game. “Everybody is trying to compare this season to least season, but it’s two different teams,” Sumlin said Monday.
Vanderbilt (2-3, 0-3 SEC): The Commodores, who travel to South Carolina Saturday, held a flood relief drive last week to college and transport both water and generators to people in need in the Columbia area. Classy move!
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Unless the NCAA reverses course, Will Grier is done for the season. How confident are you that Treon Harris can guide the Gators to the three SEC wins that would secure the SEC East title and a trip to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
In 2006 and for the 2007 NCAA basketball tournament, Talking Heads was my superstitious music of choice before every important Florida football or basketball game. Since they don’t tell you how many wins you’ve got in a particular CD, you have to use them judiciously. Since I’ve gotten two NCAA basketball championships and a national championship in football out of Talking Heads, I’m careful when to break it out and use it again but with the Grier suspension, it seems appropriate. Today’s music is “Stop Making Sense,” which spent 118 weeks on the Billboard album charts.