“I can’t tell [players] what not to do. We have freedom of choice but none of us have freedom of consequence.” – Jim McElwain
Since becoming Florida’s head football coach, that saying has been repeated hundreds of times, enough that you could say it is the most concise definition of what Jim McElwain is all about. Players are free to make their own choices but every choice they make has a consequence, good if the right choice is made, bad if it’s wrong. It’s a message he’s been hammering home with the Gators since the day he arrived and it’s obviously having a positive affect.
Do you remember the last time a Florida football player was arrested?
Just to jog your memory, it was December 19, 2015 when freshman running back Jordan Scarlett was arrested for possession of marijuana. In the aftermath of the arrest, McElwain made no excuses. He pointed out that Scarlett made a bad choice and his consequence was suspension for the Citrus Bowl game with Michigan.
McElwain said, “Look, I’m not going to put somebody in a headlock and make them do something they don’t want to do. If they choose to do it, that’s the way it is. That’s part of growing up, that’s part of building a program.”
It’s hard to argue with the way he’s building the program. Going six months without an arrested football player might be the norm at some places, but not at Florida, where football players have been arrested 27 times since 2010 and there have been another 13 athletes arrested during the same time.
Going more than six months without an arrested player is a big deal and a sign that Mac’s way of changing the football culture at UF in a positive way is taking root. There is still another month of the “silly season” before fall practice begins, but the last six months have been refreshing and are a hopeful indicator that this will be a silent summer for UF.
For the 14 teams that make up the SEC, five have gone arrest-free since January 1 and nine have had at least one player arrested. Here is the list of SEC football players arrested since January 1, 2016 along with the total number of arrests since 2010:
Alabama (2): Cam Robinson (5/17, possession of a stolen firearm; possession of a controlled substance); Lawrence “Hootie” Jones (5/17, possession of marijuana; illegally carrying a weapon in the presence of narcotics)
There were 6 arrests in 2015 and 21 total arrests for football players since 2010. There have been 23 arrests in all sports since 2010.
Arkansas (0): The last football player arrested at Arkansas was in 2015
There were 3 arrests in 2015 and 16 total arrests for football players since 2010. There have been 28 arrests in all sports since 2010.
Auburn (4): Byron Cowart (4/30, second degree possession of marijuana); Carlton Davis (4/30, second degree possession of marijuana); Ryan Davis (4/30, second degree possession of marijuana); Jeremiah Dinson (4/30, second degree possession of marijuana)
There was 1 arrest in 2015 and 17 total arrests for football players since 2010. There have been 20 arrests in all sports since 2010.
FLORIDA (0): The last football player arrested was 2015.
There were 7 arrests in 2015 and 27 total arrests for football players since 2010. There have been 40 arrests in all sports since 2010.
Georgia (6): Chad Clay (6/22, theft); Chauncey Rivers (5/11, felony violation of a controlled substance; parking in a handicapped space without a permit); Juwan Briscoe (4/23, seatbelt violation; driving without a license); Chad Clay (4/12, possession of a weapon in a school zone; second degree criminal damage to property); Julian Rochester (4/12, possession of a weapon in a school zone; second degree criminal damage to property); Jonathan Ledbetter (3/20, underage possession of alcohol; making a false ID)
There were 4 arrests in 2015 and 32 total arrests for football players since 2010. There have been 44 arrests in all sports since 2010.
Kentucky (2): Will Thomas Collins (3/4; alcohol intoxication; criminal mischief; theft; fleeing a crime scene; home invasion); Jason Hatcher (2/22, speeding; trafficking in marijuana; tampering with physical evidence; possession of drug paraphernalia)
There were 0 arrests in 2015 and 20 total arrests for football players since 2010.
LSU (0): The last football player arrested was in 2015.
There were 5 arrests in 2015 and 16 total arrests for football players since 2010. There have been 20 arrests in all sports since 2010.
Mississippi State (2): Anfernee Mullins (4/8, simple assault); Rod Gibson (6/11, driving under the influence)
There were 6 arrests in 2015 and 16 total arrests for football players since 2010. There have been 19 arrests in all sports since 2010.
Missouri (1): Terry Beckner Jr. (1/20, possession of less than 35 grams of marijuana)
There were 0 arrests in 2015 and 23 total arrests for football players since 2010. There have been 34 arrests in all sports since 2010.
Ole Miss (2): Rod Taylor (4/3, suspicion of shoplifting); Breeland Speaks (3/4, suspicion of driving under the influence)
There were 4 arrests in 2015 and 23 total arrests for football players since 2010. There have been 31 arrests in all sports since 2010.
South Carolina (0): The last football player arrested at South Carolina was in 2014.
There were 0 arrests in 2015 and 9 total arrests for football players/coaches since 2010. There have been 13 arrests in all sports since 2010.
Tennessee (1): Alexis Johnson (2/17, aggravated assault; false imprisonment)
There were 4 arrests in 2015 and 22 total arrests for football players since 2010. There have been 23 arrests in all sports since 2010.
Texas A&M (1): Speedy Noil (4/1, driving without a license)
There was 1 arrest in 2015 and 24 total arrests for football players since 2010. There have been 25 arrests in all sports since 2010.
Vanderbilt (0): The last football player arrested was in 2014.
There were 0 arrests in 2015 and 8 total arrests for football players since 2010. There have been 8 arrests in all sports since 2010.
GAK NOT ENROLLED FOR SUMMER B
Incoming freshman center Gorjok Gak did not enroll at UF for summer B because of a pending eligibility issue. Head coach Mike White is optimistic that Gak (7-0, 2010), who came to Florida via Sudan and then Australia, will have his eligibility issues cleared by the fall.
COASTAL CAROLINA WINS COLLEGE WORLD SERIES
Here is something for which you can just about bet the ranch: Coastal Carolina will NOT be wearing Russell Athletic uniforms and New Balance shoes next year. In any sport. Not after the Chanticleers (only team in college sports with that nickname) knocked off Arizona, 4-3, to win the College World Series Thursday afternoon to cap what has been two glorious weeks for the little school (enrollment 10,263 total undergrad and graduate) from Conway, SC. Alum Dustin Johnson winning the US Open certainly brought a lot of nice publicity to the school but nothing can compare with what the Chanticleers did in Omaha in bringing home the first national championship in any sport for the school.
Andrew Beckwith won the Most Outstanding Player Trophy and he should have after winning all three of his starts. That complete game win over #1 seed Florida in the CCU’s first game was no fluke. During their 9-game run to a national championship, the Chanticleers showed they know how to win with pitching, defense, small ball and timely home runs, as was the case Thursday when G.K. Young sent a ball into orbit as part of a 4-run 6th inning.
Sometimes that term “deserved to win” gets way overused, but not in this case. Coastal deserved to win this. They proved they were the best team for two weeks in Omaha.
The win is a big deal for two conferences. It is the first national championship of any kind for the Big South Conference and it happened on Coastal’s last day as a member of the league. Today, Coastal moves to the Sun Belt Conference, which means so long to Division 1AA football and hello to Division I where the school will play a full D1 schedule in 2017. No Sun Belt team has ever won a Division I national championship although Appalachian State, Georgia Southern and Texas State have won national championships in the lower divisions. Adding a program that has competed with the power conferences and brought home a national title is a very big deal for the Sun Belt.
The football coach at CCU is an interesting story. He’s Joe Moglia, who is the former CEO and current chairman of the board of TD Ameritrade. The ball yard where Coastal won the College World Series is named TD Ameritrade Park. When he was younger, Moglia coached football but couldn’t make financial ends meet for his family so he left the game behind and wound up making a fortune many times over TD Ameritrade. His family secure forever, Moglia chose to return to his first love and starting coaching football again. In four years at Coastal he’s turned the program into the beast of the Big South with a 41-13 record that includes four consecutive trips to the NCAA Division IAA playoffs.
And that brings us to what happened Thursday and the shoe and apparel contract. Nothing against Russell and New Balance – they are good companies who make good products – but the shoe and apparel people who write big checks are going to be calling. Coastal is the latest Jack the giant slayer so someone will make an offer that can’t be refused.
My money is on Under Armour signing Coastal to a nice contract.
THE 10 BEST DEFENSIVE TACKLES IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL 2016
Malik McDowell of Michigan State is a game changer in the middle. His ability to command a double team opens up the pass rush for the speed guys on the outside and takes opponents’ eligible receivers out of the passing game. He’s the best in a very good year for D-tackles in college football. Here is my top 10 for 2016:
1. Malik McDowell, Michigan State, JR (41 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 1 interception, 9 QB hurries, 2 forced fumbles, 1 punt block)
2. Davon Godchaux, LSU, JR (41 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 6 sacks, 4 QB hurries, 1 forced fumble)
3. Carlos Watkins, Clemson, SR (34 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, 1 interception, 2 QB hurries)
4. Folorunso Fatukasi, UConn, JR (51 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, 4 QB hurries, 4 forced fumbles)
5. Jaleel Johnson, Iowa, SR (45 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, 6 QB hurries)
6. Josh Augusta, Missouri, SR (27 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 3 QB hurries)
7. Dalvin Tomlinson, Alabama, SR (34 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, 6 passes broken up, 4 QB hurries)
8. Vincent Taylor, Oklahoma State, JR (48 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 1 QB hurry, 1 punt block)
9. Tanzel Smart, Tulane, SR (62 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 2 sacks 1 QB hurry, 1 forced fumble)
10. Terry Beckner Jr., Missouri, SO (27 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 2 QB hurries)
Just missed: Montravius Adams, Auburn, SR; Jake Replogle, Purdue, SR; D.J. Jones, Ole Miss, SR; Caleb Brantley, Florida, JR; Derek Nnadi, Florida State, JR
For those of you who were concerned about losing Kevin O’Sullivan to Texas, Texas made its move yesterday, hiring Tulane coach David Pierce, formerly the head coach at Sam Houston State and a longtime assistant at Rice.
In announcing a $105.7 million athletic budget for 2016-17, Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long transferred $2.335 million to the school’s general fund. The budget projects a $37.5 million payout from the SEC but the official SEC payout won’t be announced until October and could be higher.
Former Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain was suspended 10 games by the NFL for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. McClain was suspended the first four games of 2015 for the exact same violation.
New York Jets’ DT Sheldon Richardson, a former standout at Missouri, is suspended for the first game of 2016 for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
Not that anybody really cares, but Johnny Manziel has been suspended the first four games of the 2016 for violations of the league’s substance abuse policy. There isn’t a team in the league foolish enough to sign this guy, is there?
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Does the fact that Coastal Carolina went on to win the College World Series somehow soften the blow for you since the Gators did a 2-and-through in Omaha?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
A friend of mine has insisted for the last several months that I’m missing out on the next Paul Simon in Jack Johnson. I relented earlier in the week and actually took the time to listen to Johnson and found the comparison to Rhymin’ Paul Simon not far off the mark. He’s got catchy rhythms, excellent phrasing for uncomplicated lyrics and a mellow voice. He’s recorded six albums. I plan to listen to a couple more of them this weekend.