Dr. Saturday - NCAAF

NCAA sets return date for blue-chip Gator lineman (Warning: May involve improper cookies)Just one more week, Florida, and your young defensive line will be officially reset for maximum carnage: Sharrif Floyd — former all-universe recruit and emerging bringer of doom — has been cleared to return from NCAA purgatory after wrapping up a two-game suspension this weekend. From today's official release:

University of Florida football student-athlete Sharrif Floyd must sit out two games and arrange repayment of approximately $2,700 to charity before he is eligible to compete, according to a decision today by the NCAA student-athlete reinstatement staff. Floyd did not compete Sept. 3 and must sit out the university's next game on Saturday (Sept. 10).

The university declared Floyd ineligible for violations of NCAA preferential treatment rules, including receiving $2,500 cash over several months from an individual not associated with the university. Floyd used the money for living expenses, transportation and other expenses. In addition, he received impermissible benefits prior to enrollment, including transportation and lodging related to unofficial visits to several institutions. University of Florida was not one of these schools.

The game Floyd misses on Saturday: A visit from UAB, officially a 23½-point underdog in the Swamp. The game he returns for on Sept. 17: A visit from Tennessee. Can't beat that timing.

Coincidentally, two of the other three schools Floyd visited aside from Florida: Miami and North Carolina, where he was primarily recruited by Clint Hurtt and John Blake, respectively — two names that have since become synonymous with allegedly steering high-profile players (especially defensive linemen, both coaches' specialty when not on the recruiting trail) to prospective agents in two of the most blatant cases of NCAA malfeasance of the past 25 years. If Floyd's name came up in Yahoo! Sports' interviews with ex-Miami booster Nevin Shapiro, though, there wasn't enough corroborating evidence to pin anything on him beyond Shapiro's word from a jail cell, because Floyd's name isn't among the 72 former 'Cane players and recruits listed by name in the final story.

Under most circumstances, a $2,700 tab would warrant a four-game suspension (see last year's verdict against Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green), especially involving benefits exchanged during the recruiting process (see last week's verdict against multiple Miami players). In Floyd's case, though, the NCAA cited several "mitigating circumstances" after examining "the totality" of the situation — beginning with the apparent fact that, according Floyd's high school coach in Philadelphia, Pa., Ron Cohen, at least some of the improper benefits in question were generated by a school bake sale on Floyd's behalf:

[Floyd's] coaches and guidance counselor organized a bake sale fundraiser to help pay for travel expenses to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl scouting combine in January 2009. The story appeared in Sports Illustrated and ESPN.com.

"Supposedly that's part of it," Cohen said. "That's why I was questioned. I know the cookie sale was still being brought into it. But again, I don't know. I wasn't there. I don't know how [Floyd's hearing in front of the NCAA on Tuesday] went. They didn't tell me."

As Gator beat writer Jason Lieser pointed out earlier this week, an issue that old is likely to have been resolved before Floyd ever set foot on the campus last year. But the second possible factor in reducing Floyd's time from four games to two was, in the NCAA's words, "his personal hardship." Or, in Cohen's words: "He didn't have two pennies to rub together." Floyd often relied on people outside of his family — including Cohen — for money to eat, as well as clothes and transportation.

"The kid is a great kid," Cohen said. "He never took money from agents or colleges as far as I know. He would never do anything that he knew was breaking any kind of laws. He grew up in a drug-infested area. I mean, if he wanted to break the law he could have easily done it there for big, fast money."

Obviously, $2,700 is not "big, fast money" — especially it was raised by cookies — and for once, the NCAA actually agrees. It even made a perfectly reasonable value judgment based on the available evidence. You're not going to go getting all sensible on us now, are you, Big Brother?

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Matt Hinton is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.

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