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4 posts from September 2011

September 13, 2011

The Dee Finley Saga -- Why You Shouldn't Expect A Suspension

When news first broke Monday that Gators backup linebacker Dee Finley was arrested and charged with a third-degree felony charge of resisting arrest with violence, troubling visions came to mind. Did Finley hit a police officer? Did he get Tased? What the hell happened? 

Actually, it was nothing like that. Finley is not a felon and should not be labeled or treated as such. 

And with the news Tuesday that the State Attorney has reduced Finley's charges, it would not surprise me to see little or no punishment come his way. 

Before you explode, let me explain.

Mark Long of the Associated Press is reporting that his felony charge has been reduced to a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest without violence. Reading the initial police report, it seemed a little fishy to me, and this reduction does not surprise me at all.

Here's why: The University Police Department, and the arresting officer in particular, has quite a checkered past.

From accusations of officers egging hookers, to fighting motorists in a fit of road rage, to threatening to shoot a kid during a traffic stop, the UPD has never been the beacon of upstanding and honorable law enforcement. The case is no different with Dee Finley

The arresting officer in Finley's case, William Sasser, was one of five UPD officers involved in the shooting of UF doctoral student Kofi Adu-Brempong in 2010. Sasser was a part of the UPD's Critical Incident Response Team — their version of S.W.A.T.  But he was reassigned (read: demoted) following the incident.  He was also reprimanded in February 2010 for handcuffing a student to a stop sign. He's been suspended, crashed multiple police vehicles and he even admitted to taking speed and getting a DUI. Stand-up guy, eh? Read more about Sasser here.

From reading the vague police report, and this is purely speculation at this point, the area where Finley was stopped is very close to the access ramp to the football locker rooms and training areas. While through traffic is not allowed past the barricade that Finley supposedly avoided, players and football staff generally are. Most players park their scooters under the ramp to go to meetings, workouts or class, and they must pass the barricade to get there.

Now, before you accuse me of defending Finley outright, let me say this. Nothing can change the simple fact that Finley should not have been driving. I don't care if it's just a scooter on campus. The man has four — FOUR! — tickets in three years for driving on a suspended license or a similar charge. His license is suspended in Florida and his home state of Alabama. He has an open case for one of those charges. He knows he shouldn't be driving. 

But if you watch the video that recently resulted in a UPD officer's overdue firing, and you consider the questionable reputation of Sasser, it's not hard to envision a different scenario than the one he filed in his report (see below). 

The fact that the State Attorney reduced the charge to a misdemeanor offense means he disagrees with Sasser's assessment of the crime, if indeed a crime really was committed. With Gators Super Attorney Huntley Johnson on the case, I wouldn't be surprised if the resisting arrest charge is dropped completely.

“The State Attorney reviewed the case and decided to treat it as a misdemeanor,” Johnson told the Gainesville Sun. “I did not see resisting with violence in the description in the police report.”

Me either, Huntley. Me either.

I also don't expect Finley to be publicly disciplined for his alleged misconduct. Players are very rarely, if ever, suspended for traffic violations, which, at the end of the day, is what this whole saga is about. 

I'll say it again: Finley is not a felon and should not be labeled or treated as such. 

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September 08, 2011

Gators coach Will Muschamp releases statement in response to DT Sharrif Floyd's suspension

The NCAA released a statement informing the University of Florida that defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd has been suspended for two games for receiving impermissible benefits. There's a ton of information going around right now, and coach Will Muschamp just released an official statement. Here it is in full:

"I’m angered, disgusted and extremely disappointed that Sharrif will have to miss two games.

In my opinion Sharrif is getting lumped into what is bad about college athletics. As we indicated in the statement Saturday night his issue was not related to sports agents, University of Florida boosters or his recruitment to Florida or anywhere else.

Sharrif is what is good about college athletics – his life is about survival, struggle, disappointment and adversity. I have recruited kids that did not know where they would sleep that night or what they would eat. Growing up, Sharrif was one these kids. Sharrif’s life is also about triumph, honesty, integrity, determination, perseverance and character.  The NCAA stated that he received preferential treatment; there is nothing preferential about his life.

He grew up with only his great grandmother and still sends her Pell Grant money so she can pay her bills. How many kids do you know that would do that?  I know one – Sharrif Floyd.

I want to make it clear that this issue is not about sports agents, Florida boosters or his recruitment to Florida or anywhere else.  The issue is about his survival and the only reason the NCAA, the SEC and the University of Florida were aware of these issues is because Sharrif brought them to our attention last February. He came forward because, as I said before, he is honest and because of his integrity.

The toughest day that I have had as a head football coach at Florida was the day that I had to tell Sharrif that he could not play in our game vs. FAU last week. I took away part of his family. 

He had tears in his eyes and said “What have I done wrong?” I told him he did nothing wrong. It wasn’t any easier to tell him today that he would be missing Saturday’s game.

I have two sons at home- if they end up like Sharrif I will consider myself a successful father."

More to come later.

September 03, 2011

Breaking News: DT Sharrif Floyd declared ineligible

Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, who was announced pre-game as a starter against FAU, did not dress for the game and has been declared ineligible by the school. The University Athletic Association released the following statement:

"We have declared Sharrif Floyd ineligible and he is not eligible to compete until his eligibility is reinstated by the NCAA. We have been and will continue to work with the NCAA until this matter is resolved. This is an issue that is not related to sports agents, University of Florida boosters or his recruitment to Florida. We will not have any additional comment on this matter until it is resolved."

What to watch for tonight: FAU at UF

Offensive line: The Gators will need an unproven group of offensive linemen to come together in a big way this season. Charlie Weis' offense is built on the ability to pound the ball in the running game, and the line must be able to provide adequate time for quarterback John Brantley in pass protection. If Florida is going to have a chance at bettering last season's 8-5 record, it starts up front with Xavier Nixon, Dan Wenger, Jonotthan Harrison, Jon Halapio and Matt Patchan. While they shouldn't have much trouble against FAU, you should be looking for cohesion across the board and solid play at the tackle spots, where Nixon and Patchan are trying to stay healthy for the first time in their careers. 

The quarterback: Much has been made this offseason about Brantley's renewed confidence and how Weis' pro-style offense is a much better fit than the spread. Now we'll see if all that hype was justified. Brantley has gone on record as saying he's always nervous in games. He'll need to shed that to have success this season. 

Underclassmen in the secondary: The Gators will likely start two freshmen in the secondary for the first time in school history today. After switching to safety from corner in camp, freshman De'Ante Saunders has impressed and will make the start at safety alongside sophomore Matt Elam. At corner, freshman Marcus Roberson appears to be the favorite to start opposite senior Moses Jenkins. But sophomores Cody Riggs and Jaylen Watkins will also see the field extensively. FAU's weakness is at quarterback and receiver, so this should be a good coming out party for the secondary. If the unit struggles against the Owls, coaches should start worrying.

Wide receiver and running back: It's senior Deonte Thompson's last chance to prove himself. All accounts from camp have Thompson primed for a break-out type season. I'm not buying it. But Florida will need someone to emerge as a go-to guy for Brantley. Will it be redshirt freshman Quinton DunbarFrankie Hammond? Can Andre Debose get on the field? At running back, it will be interesting to see how Weis utilizes Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps, who Weis has called the fastest running backs he's ever coached. But neither fit the prototypical pro-style mold, and Mike Gillislee could be in line for some short-yardage carries. 

Muschamp and his staff: The Gators have closed practices and been extremely secretive with any information released pertaining to their new schemes. FAU coaches have admitted it's been difficult to gameplan for UF because they don't know what to expect. Will Muschamp must be thrilled. But this is Week 1 against a team Florida paid half a million dollars to come to Gainesville. Don't expect much to be revealed, especially on defense. Unless the Owls can keep it close, Florida will likely keep things very vanilla today. 

Prediction: UF 34 - FAU 10




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