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Judge’s ignorance on display re: Charlie Strong

A Tampa judge goes all ‘Mommy Dearest’ when chastising new University of South Florida head coach Charlie Strong for two recent arrests for violent crimes of players on his team. This judge is way out of bounds in her criticism.

Judge Margaret Taylor is ruling over the court case of South Florida senior Ladarius Jackson who was arrested Monday on sexual assault charges, but in the first hearing of said case when she laid out the statement below. The statement also includes commentary about senior Hassan Childs, previously a member of the Bulls’ football team, who was subsequently released from the program for his perceived discrepancy with the law.

Judge Taylor’s remarks:

“And, I have a message for your coach, as well. Coach Strong, if you are listening, in the last couple of months there have been two arrests of your players for very violent felonies. This court, and I’m sure I’m not alone, questions whether you have control over your players. It’s fairly clear you do not have control of them off the field, and I guess only time will tell whether you have control over them on the field.

“I would implore you to think long and hard about whether being head coach at USF is a good fit for you before any other members of this community have to suffer at the hands of one of your players.”

I have several issues with the above coming from someone of the authority of Taylor, of whom I am sure is well respected in the Tampa community.

There is little doubt that Judge Taylor means well, but the judge is supposed to be impartial until the matter is settled if I am not mistaken. By saying the above, she all but considers the defendant in the case she will be ruling over guilty of the crime. Now that may or may not be true, but she shouldn’t assume guilt before the process is over. I personally think the comments are out of line whenever, but for her to make the comments at this time shows a true bias toward the case she is about to preside over.

My second issue comes from the fact that Charlie Strong has been on campus for less than five months. These two players were seniors and likely over the age of 20 years old. These are grown men that Strong did not even recruit to South Florida and they may have made huge mistakes. One has been dealt with and released from the team even before there has been a judgment, likely due to the program believing that the young man was guilty. The second has been released from all team activities pending more information coming on the incident.

I ask this… what in the world is Strong supposed to do more than he already has with these two?

One of my real issues with this judge calling out Strong is the real ignorance she showed in her perception of Strong as a leader of men. A huge issue Strong faced at Texas when he arrived there a little over three years ago was that he was faced with having to clean up the locker room at Texas. That meant kicking off very talented players that had some very abhorrent behavior issues. He did that, and because he did it to such an extreme, he likely lost his job three years later because there was a lack of experienced talent on the team when he left.

I also worked with Strong while on staff at Florida for ten years. He’s a coach that the players flock to and he can be their friend in a real way. He also didn’t put up with any crap from his guys and made sure they towed the line. He defended when needed, but if they were wrong, they faced the proper consequences.

Strong issued a statement late Wednesday afternoon…

“In the short time I have been here our program has been built on character, discipline and family. We have wonderful young men in the USF football program who choose to do the right thing every day. We are dedicated to recruiting young men of high character, and to consistently developing them with structure and frequent education regarding appropriate conduct and behavior, on and off the playing field. While I am shocked and saddened at the recent arrest of a member of our team, I am disappointed that the actions of two players over the last two months have harmed the reputation of our program, of our wonderful university and of my character. We have high expectations of our coaches, staff and student-athletes and we hold accountable those who act contrary to our values.”

The judge also showed more ignorance with her statement about not having a football program when she graduated from USF. We get it judge. You went to school for school and not because they had a football team. That doesn’t mean you have to ‘judge’ a school because it has a football team now. Let’s be impartial here as a judge should be and be just a little less ignorant.

There are likely 120 or so football players on the South Florida football team. We are talking about less than 2% of them are on trial (not found guilty yet) for what they have been accused of. A blanket statement of Strong’s lack of control is a bit on the ridiculous side.

Lastly, given their age, at some point these young men have to be treated like men. They consciously make bad decisions (if indeed they did) and they are well out of mamma’s reach for three years to know what they should and shouldn’t do. Let’s let them be responsible for their own actions at some point in time.

Judge Taylor, you were way out of line.



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