Adopting the words of that famously robust President, economic visionary, outdoor enthusiast and recovered asthmatic Teddy Roosevelt.
Bully for Urban Meyer!
And shame, shame, a thousand times shame, on nascent National Enquirer reporter Mike Bianchi , lately of the Orlando Sentinel, for the substance free drivel of today's article.
With no facts whatsoever, he opens by alleging that Coach Meyer offered a scholarship to Carl Moore's girlfriend, Maranda Smith. He then refers to Moore's recruitment as "potentially illegal" and alleges, without any factual corroboration that, "Moore likely wasn't going to attend UF unless Smith....came to Gainesville too." He goes on to ask, "What business did Meyer have recruiting Moore's girlfriend to be a UF gymnast;" again, without factual citation.
The termite ridden pillars beneath Bianchi's toxic platform wobble without even supporting references to a "confidential source." Bianchi knows that Meyer and UF are legally precluded from challenging these opinions cloaked as fact, and that he will scamper off with plum daily ratings; as measured by internet page hits.
The only thing Bianchi does correctly is quote the NCAA regulations about recruiting athletes in other sports and limitations on telephonic contact during the recruiting dead period.
Analyzed critically, his allegations wilt.
First, the Gymnastics team has 12 members on the active roster and the NCAA has a limitation of 6 scholarships. Scholarships are precious commodities in "minor" sports; no money is willingly thrown away, especially especially on the No. 1 ranked team in the nation. Anyone who thinks Ronda Faehn is going to demoralize her team and jeopardize her chance for an SEC and National title against Georgia is nuts. On a 12 person team, you can't hide that anhinga amongst the swans. Egos would be bruised and an internal political brouhaha would ensue.
Second, Smith is good AND able to compete immediately. In 2005 she tied with current Gator All-American and star Amanda Castillo as the floor exercise co-national champion. In that meet, Smith was 11th all around and was 9th on beam. So, that makes her a top event contender and solid all-around contender as she completed high school. Essentially, she was a 4-star recruit. Injured early in her freshman year after posting some solid performances, Smith had a rod surgically implanted in her leg. Eventually, she left UCLA,enrolling in junior college with Moore. As a result, she is able to compete immediately. It is worth pointing out that in the meet against then No. 2 UGA, she scored as one of 5 "event" participants, posting a 9.725 on the uneven parallel bars.
Third, Meyer doesn't make Faehn's scholarship decisions. What does Faehn care if Moore comes to UF? Gymnastics is an elite program and has been since the days of Elfi Schlegel and Earnestine Weaver in the early 1980's. The current team is loaded with All-Americans and came into the season ranked No. 1. Why would Faehn risk this history? Why would Faehn risk a national championship run? There's no incentive, no upside while the downside is huge and might well cost her a job.
What did Meyer do? The same thing as any prudent coach. He called anyone and everyone close to Moore. He does that with all recruits....just like all the other coaches. It's not against the rules, it's a necessity. Isn't that part of the Bowden Method, sell the families? Upon finding out Smith was an elite level gymnast I'm sure he discussed it. But there's a big difference between talking about Smith being a gymnast at Florida and recruiting her.
Returning to the rebuttal of Bianchi.
Fourth, Bianchi's factually dead wrong. Moore always wanted to attend Florida while Smith was interested in Arizona. This was published on January 16, 2008, in an article by Brandon Zimmerman of the Gainesville Sun. It is worth noting that the Sun article was written long before there was an issue, so Smith had no incentive to lie....unless you think Meyer told her he wasn't allowed to recruit her while he was recruiting her and brought her into the conspiracy, otherwise how would she know such a thing was an NCAA rule violation? In the article, Smith describes Moore as, "set on UF." It's clear from the article that Meyer encouraged her to join the gymnastics team. But there is no evidence that he offered her a scholarship or suggested that one would be offered. In fact, Smith states that SHE eventually contacted Faehn, who dispatched an assistant coach to watch her practice in California and then offered a scholarship.
What does this sound like? It sounds like Meyer encouraged a talented athlete at a post-injury career crossroads to press forward. But Meyer didn't make her practice or re-develop her skills to the level that she was able to impress the assistant, Coach Faehn or bring her to a level where she was ready to compete against our arch-nemesis within 2 weeks of enrolling at UF.
So, I say Bully! Bully for Urban Meyer! He got a great football recruit and persuaded a talented athlete not to give up her career, something she may well have regretted in 20 years.
And Bianchi? He can kiss my Rosie Red Ray Hole!