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You've got to have thugs to win football games

Just came back from a run. If you want to know why Florida football players are better than most, just go to Gainesville during June and jog three miles during the heat of the day. Your lungs burn. Your head aches. Your muscles revolt. It's an oppressive feeling of dread that attacks the senses from all directions. Now imagine two-a-days in August. Imagine getting smacked around by Brandon Spikes. Imagine attempting to cover Deonte Thompson at speeds approaching terminal velocity. Imagine the pain of blocking Carlos Dunlap. There simply is no escaping The Swamp.

GAINESVILLE -- A former Florida running back now coaching high school football in Broward County told me one time that you have to have your fair share of thugs to win college and NFL football games. I think of this every time I read a blog or column admonishing the Gators and UF coach Urban Meyer for the football team's rap sheet over the last five years.

Florida's arrest record since Meyer took over is extensive. So is its wins total. A grand total of 20 players have been ordered to appear before the court for 24 infractions. Most of the charges were misdemeanors. Some were felonies. All reflect poorly on the University of Florida when filtered through the scrutinizing prism of a newspaper.

Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley issued this statement regarding the recent rash of player arrests. Six players have been charged since November.

"It is really easy to focus on the negative issues and negative press," Foley said. "This is part of the world we live in, and we understand this. No one here condones our players stepping out of line, and everyone here wants to get better.

"However, Urban Meyer and his staff are the best that I have seen in modifying behavior and, at the end of day, the majority of the players who come through this program will make us all proud -- and not just because they are good football players."

I'm not writing this blog to condone the arrests of Florida's players, but I can write without reservation that my opinion on the matter leans towards that of an apologist. You've got to have thugs to win football games. This ideology is ingrained in football players. Should players be punished for breaking the law? Without question, yes. People -- you, me, everyone -- should be punished for breaking the law. Should coaches and administrators be held accountable when their players break the law. Without question, yes. Jeremy Foley knows better than most that behavior modification is a two-way street. Should newspaper writers demand a cleaner football program from the state's flagship university? Yeah, sure. That's what we think we're supposed to do.

But people should understand that our love of football in its current state helps to fuel this thuggish behavior. It's a byproduct of the game just like coaching salaries, television contracts ... my job as a football writer. There's a reason why Harvard won't be winning a national championship in football anytime soon. Does Harvard even have a football team? I wouldn't know. Its players' names don't show up on arrest reports. Jeremy Foley said it best: "This is part of the world we live in, and we understand this."



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thats fine, and yes i would rather have 2 national championships and 24 arrests than no arrests and back to back subpar seasons, but what is hypocritical of all gator fans is constantly preaching their holy than thou crap and how the U is scum, thugs etc, then ignore it when it comes to their precious School.

Obviously the Gators don't want the bad press, but the numbers make it look much worse than it actually is and they don't reflect the punishments that were handed down. There may have been 24 arrests, but it only involved 19 players of which 8 are no longer with the team.

From the Orlando Sentinel:
● Only three arrests from the last three recruiting classes (including 2009)
● At least 14 of the charges were dropped in the 24 cases
● 14 of the 24 player arrests have been from players he did not
recruit or were in his first recruiting class
● The 24 arrests represents 19 different players
● Arrests by recruiting class
Six did not recruit
Eight in first class
Seven in second class
Two in third class
One in fourth class
None in fifth class

It just seems to me that a bigger deal is being made of all this then there probably needs to be.

ManYoo, exactly. First of all, there were 24 CHARGES (not arrests, big difference) on 19 players. So already the "24 players arrested" B.S. is wrong...it is "19 players charged with 24 total counts."

Plenty of those were thrown out and complete bull (Carl Johnson, as an example) and some are utterly ridiculous (two players charged with battery with paper cups from Jimmy Johns being thrown at someone).

So now you're down to 10 actual charges, of which 5 of the players were either immediately kicked off the team or ALREADY off the team (Torrey Davis, for example). The remainder (even those who had charges dropped) where dealt some punishment.

It isn't what the players do, as football players often make stupid and horrible mistakes, IT IS HOW THE SCHOOL REACTS AND RESPONDS. Some schools cover these things up, some chose in the past to not even drug test players (cough, cough) and others simply deny allegations. The Florida program TAKES ACTION.

Like jo said, this may sound like I'm being a Gators apologist and looking at everything through orange-and-blue tinted glasses. In some ways I may be. BUT, if you are an unbiased observer to this issue and actually look at the FACTS, actions by the school to correct these things and TREND of the program toward getting rid of these issues, you would not be spewing off at the mouth like all of these Canes fans are.

In actuality, I'm just breaking things down and doing more than just sensationalizing the story like South Florida journalists did.

As to your main point, jo, you don't have to have "thugs" to win football games, but you do have to have aggressive, brash, hard-nosed guys - and many of them happen to be thugs.

I really reject the notion that you have to have "thugs" on your football team to win. I think that these problems that exist in virtually ALL programs today is a reflection of our society and the breakdown of the core traditional family. For instance, how many of these highly recruited kids come from underpriveldged single parent families? I would almost guess the majority do. If mom has to work two and sometimes three jobs for family survival that doesn't include a dad, how much supervision can possibly be going on?? In an enviornment that more than not includes a bad neighborhood with bullies and gangs, where do you think the core of influence is gonna be? Hey, that's the real world out there for many of these guys.


South Florida Journalists???

Actually the LA Times and Gator grad with CBS. Not just SF J.

The crime wave news is spreading, this needs to come to an end before this program does.




With all your journalistic skill can you dig up the arrest rate for 18-22 year old males in and out of college regardless of athletic affiliation please?

I have never been arrested, but am aware of a rather large boat load of chaps that age who have been.
Another similar topic:

I will guess that targeting a smaller demographic of many of these kids who presumably have had tough upbringing would show their arrest records without going to college, and without playing football is dramatically higher...So is UF really dropping the arrest rate?

Stories on CBS and L.A. Times were picked up from the Sun-Sentinel. And South Florida journalists are the ones *sensationalizing* it. Others made plenty of mistakes in "reporting" it with information from the sensationalized stories. Nice try.

Good post, Paul.

Nice try???

Didn't know you had contact with all the reporters.

I think a reporter who is a die hard Gator would do his research before writing an article like his!

Stop being a homer and look at the issues that are happening on campus. This makes the University look bad, but it will also be it's downfall.

Hope not, but I don't support kid's being arrested over and over.

I guess you are talking about the CBS one. That is an editorial, not a news story. He took the headline and gave his opinion on it. It came off as more emotional and reactionary than anything else. Had he done his research, he may have come to a different conclusion.

Just because I disagree with you does not mean I am a homer or I support kids being arrested. I think you need to put each situation into perspective rather than coming up with generalities, like you are, "Gator"Rod.


What a bunch of hypocrites.

All of you Gator fans saying this is no big deal are the same ones who have been calling Miami Thug U and making fun of their criminal past.

Wake up and take your medicine like real men.

...isn't it all the Canes fans who were OK with being Thug U and embracing the thug image being hypocrites and attacking the Gators on this sensationalized, overblown story?

Unlike scUM, we don't have pay for play programs, administration purposely not giving players drug tests or punishing them when they do something wrong and Pell Grant scandals.

No one is dismissing all of these charges (not arrests) or ignoring the fact that they happened. My only point is that the numbers have been greatly inflated and this is being made out to be a bigger deal than it actually is.

No, Harvard isn't good because they care less about football and more about academics. Look around the country, there are plenty of teams with "thugs" on their roster that win nothing. South Carolina? Wisconsin? Texas A&M? UK? Minnesota? Iowa? etc.

Point being, you need to get your head out of the sand. The important issue is whether Meyer can put a stop to this activity, that the fans and journalist don't foster it, but rather damn it.

As it stands, You and most of Gator nation are doing it wrong.

yeah. Texas, oklahoma, LSU, Oregon, VT, and Ohio state (hate em, and we know you beat em, but they do win) are all teams that are considered in the elite and coincidentally don't have 24 arrest over the last 4 years. It's possible to have great people off the field and winning records on the field. that said, LSU kinda seems like they have shady recruiting tactics. regardless, you don't need thugs to win.

Hey there, reporter man, if you're gonna navel gaze and tell about how the "world works" you could start with the fact that newspapers reports almost anything the police do without using any kind of useful judgment about whether the police should have done it. Arrests, in this society, are pretty much meaningless at this point. Cops arrest first, ask questions later, and actively pursue stuff like disorderly houses and urinating in an alley.

Start there, at least, before telling us about the "world we live in." I'd trust you know something about that like I'd trust Rumsfeld to run a war. You live in the toy department, brother. Wake up to "the world."

UF fans and the school are a bit hypocritical.
There are disciplinary issues--just like at any other big school that has to sacrifice its integrity a bit to recruit the best players--but the problem is the way people talk about it.
Some of the commenters on here have been right, in that UF fans always look down on UM as a bunch of thugs, while the Gators aren't exactly choir boys. Then Meyer is always talking his "top 1 percent of 1 percent" garbage that is absolutely untrue. When UF has the nation's largest disparity between SAT scores of athletes and the general student population, his doctrine is clearly not true.

As far as the arrest record, yes, people are running wild with the numbers. UF has been unfortunate to have some out-of-the-ordinary arrests that grab a lot of headlines (tow lot, Jimmy Johns, AK-47, JJ fighting off a tazer) and make things seem a little more out of control than they are.
But that press release the UAA sent out is ridiculous. When you have to issue a statistical breakdown of arrests to make yourself feel better, you have some problems to address.
I understand they were responding to the Sentinel's misguided use of stats, but I don't agree with them stooping like that.

And Adam, I'd like to know what makes you believe UF is addressing its problems better than other schools. Is it by ignoring/covering up failed drug tests to let some important players play in key games and save face? Is it by coddling them and hiding them from the media when there are problems so they don't have to take accountability for themselves? Is it by shuffling a player on and off the team because of academic/off the field issues, then only nudging him toward the door after he makes some big plays in the NC game?

I'm not crusading against UF as a dirty program that needs to be cleaned up. But the point is this: Florida is no better than any other major program when it comes to this stuff, and it shouldn't be portrayed as if it is. It's a good football program and a good school--two separate entities entirely.

Adam S. - Another article, guess this reporter is from S.FL??? I'm sure you know.


And there was another negative story on us on ESPN today!


So you hate cops. And your point is...?


Adam S. is and I-D-I-O-T and views "his" world as though he is a blind man.

No, Jo, you don't have to have thugs.....what an absurd headline!
Let's remember something here:The leader of the team is Tebow and he is as aggressive and competitive as they come and the farthest thing removed from a thug.Spikes is the leader on Defense and not a thug, either.
You cannot paint all with the same broad brush and take such liberties with your mighty pen(keyboard).
You fail to represent the good things that Florida has accomplished academically, and them winning the SEC All Sports award, but all to easily join in the fray of pointing out their shortcomings and then disparaging them by labeling them(all) as thugs tha are winning footbll games...
Careful,Jo, lest you be labeled as a journalistic thug wielding a keyboard as your weapon of choice....

There are really three main issues with players an any School getting arrested:
1. How does student-athlete arrests compare to the overall studeny body? If it's the same then there is no issue.
2. If student-athlete arrest rate is higher than student body, then further analysis of what the University has done/is doing to help reduce arrests? If University is making every reasonable effort as dictated by common sense and what other Universities are doing, then there is really very little else you can do (ie - remember these are "adults" who can opt to join the military and "die" for our Country).
3. If student-athlete arrest rate is higher then student body, analyze the trends to see if improvement is being made analyze what has/has not worked. When looking at Urban Meyer's class the difference each year is remarkable. Also, compare to other schools in your State and Conference to see what one can learn/glean from others.

First Jo...in the day, we had THREE a days, not two a days. By that evening session on the turf, you were toast. As a walk-on we were taped before breakfast, then after the shower, got taped before lunch then got taped again for the evening fun. That how someone who THOUGHT they were in shape at 192 ended up at 178 Real Fast. It was so bad, you had to weigh-in before and after each practice; if you did not regain a certain percentage of your weight, you were held out of practice till you got the weight back.

Second, "Thugs" NO, aggressive athletic dudes with a mean streak, YES! Unfortunately, the line between the two does and will forever fade and cross. On the field, at that level, is not a place where kindness and diplomacy serve you well. Its the "leaders" on the team who need to take action and put their foot down about being out at HogTown bars at 2am...just asking for trouble and likely won't even be started by a player, but the player, being a player, will want to finsih it!

Bottom line is all major football programs extend a hand to ultra talented athletes that would not be extended if the same person could not run a 4.4 or 4.3 ect... It is in my opinion also foolish to argue about charged vs convicted because (I believe it is safe to say) when these stars get in trouble calls are made and rules bent to make the issue go away or at least made into something more "acceptable".

All that being said this is not a gator thing this is a high level sports thing.

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