Should UT fans cheer Gator woes?

The fact seven University of Florida football players have been involved in off-field incidents since the BCS Championship Game in January has Gator fans shaking their heads in dismay and rival fans shaking their fists in celebration.

Here's a word of warning: Don't get too excited, Gator-haters. Your favorite program is only a couple of juicy headlines from the same sort of unwanted public scrutiny. These things tend to run in cycles, and the Gators obviously are squirming in the negative spotlight at the present time.

Earlier this week offensive lineman Ronnie Wilson was charged with battery and discharging a firearm related to his April arrest outside a nightclub. He allegedly slapped and spat on a fellow patron, then left the bar, pulled a rifle from the trunk of his vehicle and fired a shot into the air.

Making matters worse is the fact that the charges against Wilson were placed roughly a week after football teammate Brandon James and Gator basketball player Brandon Powell were arrested on charges of possessing and attempting to purchase marijuana.

Head football coach Urban Meyer has dismissed five players in his two years at the Florida helm, yet the off-field problems continue. Following seven unseemly off-field incidents in the past five months, the Gator Nation is reeling.

The Vol Nation can relate. It was just two years ago that a dozen Tennessee athletes ran afoul of the law in a span of 12 months. Included were assault charges against gridders Tony McDaniel (for breaking a fellow student's jaw in a pickup basketball game), Brent Schaeffer and Bret Smith (for their participation in a dormitory fight involving a baseball bat) and Robert Ayers (for punching a guy during a melee at a fraternity party).

Opposing fans were relishing the Vols' misery back then, much as they are relishing Florida's misery now. The fact is, just about every program in the SEC has endured some humiliating moments in the past 10 years.

Hopefully, Tennessee fans haven't forgotten the ugly off-field incidents involving Vol athletes in 2004 and '05. Hopefully, Tennessee fans are showing some restraint as the Gators endure their current rash of embarrassing mishaps. There's a lesson in all of this that should be abundantly clear:

What goes around comes around.


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