FOOTBALL: Much ado about nothing

Before we get into the heart of the matter here, first things first. <p> This is not about Ron Zook and whether or not you think he is not a good football coach all because Florida lost a game to Louisiana State University or for any losses in the previous two and a half seasons. This has nothing to do with on the field coaching. That is for another time and another place. <p> Got it?

Now, what this is all about is Ron Zook being thrown under the bus for doing the right thing, which was standing up for his football players. This is where this discussion begins and ends. Period.

Unless you've been doing your best impersonation of the ostrich with his head buried in the sand, by now you've either read or heard that Ron Zook did any number of bad things on the night of September 16 at the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity house on the University of Florida campus. It has been reported in various mediums that Zook threatened poor little old frat boys, that he threatened a dean, that he was running off at the mouth with the F bombs and various other allegations.

It has also been reported that the Assistant Dean of Students, Director of Greek Life, Christopher H. Bullins says he was present at a confrontation between Coach Zook, football players and the members of the fraternity, and that Dean Bullins felt "threatened" as did frat member Jason Bailey, one of several Pi Kappa Phi's who had a complaint sworn against them for jumping three Gator football players on the Wednesday night before the Tennessee game, breaking the nose of offensive lineman Steve Rissler.

If you believe even half of what you're hearing about this incident, and in particular, that Zook threatened Dean Bullins, then I have to believe you're of that "better living through chemistry" school of thought, i.e.; what mind altering substance have you been putting in your body lately?

I've heard all the stories. I've got the police reports right in front of me. I've talked to people who were there. I've talked to people who have told me all about Pi Kappa Phi and its band of brothers.

You want to know what Ron Zook did?

He was called at his home by Jeremy Foley and told to hustle his butt over to the frat house where it appeared that an incident was brewing between the frat boys and four Gator football players. Zook arrived. There were some words. Zook walked away with his football players. Other than some words, there was no further trouble. No fights broke out. No one was arrested.

Mission accomplished.

You can argue till the cows come home that Zook should have kept his cool enough so that the F word didn't splurt out ONE time, but it did. Once folks. That's it. Is that the way Ron Zook talks all the time? Nope. Was this a heated moment? Yes. Have any of you ever used a curse word and quite possibly the F word in a heated moment? Probably more of you than would admit it.

Zook did indeed tell the vice president of the fraternity that if it were up to him, the frat house would be shut down. He also reiterated to the dean that if the sworn complaint against the football players is proven true that he will do everything that he can to have the fraternity shut down. I am told by people I trust that if Bullins felt threatened it's because he looked like a twinkie among a group of large people, but that's about the extent of the "threat."

That was it, folks..

For that Ron Zook is being made out by some to be out of control. Out of control? Out of control would be if a fight erupted once Zook arrived. Out of control would be a deliberate attempt to physically intimidate during an in your face confrontation with the fraternity vice president, Jason Bailey or with Dean Bullins. None of those things happened.

Zook did stand up for his players. He raised his voice for sure, but got his message across and walked away with his players. If the frat boys are feeling threatened, perhaps they need to take a look in the mirror. They would not have felt threatened in the least if they hadn't created the atmosphere for this incident in the first place. Ron Zook didn't do anything wrong.

What I've concluded is that in this incident Ron Zook has been thrown under the bus so badly that I doubt anyone with a fully functional brain would blame him for hiring the meanest rip your lungs out and stomp the carcass till it's bloody lawyer I could find with orders to sue until someone decides it's best to call in the boats, fire the admiral and wave the white flag of surrender because the war's been lost.

Let's end this little discussion with the obvious — Pi Kappa Phi is not your basic collection of Eagle Scouts. Far from it.

In addition to the sworn complaints against its members by the three football players, allegedly (a) the fraternity is on probation — AGAIN! and for a variety of campus rules violations that range from the serious to the petty; (b) one of Gainesville's top criminal lawyers is representing one or possibly more of the Pi Kappa Phi's for an alleged rape that took place at one of its parties; and (c) that as many as 100 Pi Kappa Phi's and those in their seating block at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium were physically removed by the law enforcement officers Saturday night for harassing and hurling a barrage of obscenities at the parents of Gator football players.

I live in Gainesville. I hear a lot of things, some of which I automatically dismiss, others that make me shake my head in wonder. On more than one occasion I've heard it said that if you're a mama or daddy with a daughter attending the University of Florida that you would be wise to threaten her with grounding for life if you ever hear that she went to a party at the Pi Kappa Phi house. I used to think that was nothing more than just your typical campus rumor. Now I have to wonder.

I can also tell you that I know Ron Zook. I've written things that were critical of him on some occasions, praiseworthy on others. I know him well enough to tell you that he speaks from the heart, that he truly loves the kids who play for him, that he loves the University of Florida, and that he's as honest as the day is long. Zooker may be a lot of things, but he isn't a liar and he's not the kind of person who goes around threatening people.

If it were not for the fact that we have a rogue fraternity that probably needs to be shut down, I would conclude that this incident should be labeled much ado about nothing.

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