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Florida Gators put the kibosh on questions

GAINESVILLE -- Crazy days in Hogtown. The University of Florida's sports information department made one player available for media interviews on Tuesday evening after star defensive end Carlos Dunlap was arrested for allegedly driving under the influence early Tuesday morning.

Florida coach Urban Meyer called Dunlap's arrest a distraction and "stunning" on Tuesday after practice and said that Dunlap will not play on Saturday against Alabama in the Southeastern Conference championship game. 

To limit the potential distraction for Florida's players, only fifth-year senior Ryan Stamper was made available for interviews on Tuesday and Stamper was only allowed to answer two questions before being whisked away by a UF media relations official.

Before Stamper's interview, the media relations official directed reporters to not ask Stamper questions about Carlos Dunlap. The Miami Herald explained to Stamper that "I know it's a sore subject but it's my job to ask the question: How big of a distraction is the arrest of Carlos Dunlap?" 

Before Stamper could speak, Florida's sports information director ended the interview and later informed reporters that no other players would be available. Don't expect any more player interviews this week leading up to Saturday's game. No.1 Florida (12-0) plays No.2 Alabama (12-0) a 4 p.m. at Atlanta's Georgia Dome.

Question for readers: How big of a loss is Dunlap for the Gators? Tom Luginbill of ESPN said that losing Dunlap is "almost the equivalent of Alabama losing Rolando McClain. It's that big of a deal. That's going to alter the game a little bit for Florida."

Now, we can debate all day the importance of Dunlap to the Gators' defense. My opinion: Losing Dunlap hurts but I think UF will be just fine with defensive ends Jermaine Cunningham and Justin Trattou. Trattou will be filling in for Dunlap and Trattou is probably better than Dunlap at stopping the run. Florida still has plenty of depth at defensive end. Duke Lemmens is a talented player and William Green has been waiting for his shot all season. It should be noted that Green, a Hoover, Ala., native, chose Florida over Alabama.

-jo-

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