June 10, 2009
Much has been made the past week or so of Florida's string of legal run-ins under Urban Meyer, which at some point recently hit the apparently magic number of 24 arrests in four years. If this were our school, and we operated on the same peninsula as Miami, we would simply shrug, grin and accept the inherited title of "Thug U," while shamelessly flashing the attendant series of national championship rings.
Florida, on the other hand, is playing defense in a most unusual fashion after the Orlando Sentinel rolled out the complete list Tuesday, first with a standard-issue statement by Urban Meyer, which -- while weird -- is just banal and non-specific enough to defend. Less feasible is what's supposed to pass as a mitigating breakdown of the team's legal skirmishes thus far. By the school's own count:
College Football Talk delivers the relevant PR lesson here: "It's never good when you've got your media relations department breaking down your recruiting classes by arrest." If the Gators aren't careful, this needless spin cycle is going to end up drawing more negative attention to the program than the arrest reports did in the first place.
• 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 (under Meyer)
- Six did not recruit
- Eight in first class
- Seven in second class
- Two in third class
- One in fourth class
- None in fifth class
This is an inexplicable and bizarre move for a program that, for all its trouble keeping players out of orange jumpsuits, doesn't seem to be taking on water by anyone's standards. If they've got enough starters suiting up to keep blowing out opponents week in and week out, are the fans really going to be that bothered? (Or have I, as a Tennessee alumna, just lost all perspective over the years on the significance of player arrests?)