Friday, August 01, 2008

Might as Well Read it Here First

Looks like Ronnie Wilson will return to the Gators as a walk-on defensive linemen.

Deservedly, there will be a firestorm from our SEC competitors and in-state rivals. Urban Meyer has hoisted himself upon his own petard.

From Day 1, Coach Meyer has portrayed himself as a hard-nosed, but fair disciplinarian. If you've ever listened to him speak, he realizes that all 18-21 yr. old males are idiots. As a result, his punishments vary with the severity of the offense and/or university mandate.

For severe offenses, he has typically suspended players for the season, with the opportunity to earn their way back, much as Coach Spurrier did with Jabar Gaffney. Players who violated the terms of their suspension, until now, have been booted from the team.

In the past, Meyer's been tough. Recall that Marcus Thomas earned himself a 4-game suspension then allegedly repeated the identical violation and was dismissed from our NC team in the middle of the campaign.

Likewise, Avery Atkins was dismissed for a serious domestic altercation, but the door was left open for a return if he lived up to expectations. Unfortunately, Mr. Atkins violated the terms of his suspension and was permanently dismissed. In Atkins case, he suffered an untimely death under unusual circumstances. The end was tragic, though not necessarily related to the suspension. More likely, his demise was related to the personal issues that caused him to be suspended and dismissed in the first place.

Then, Ronnie Wilson. Wilson's charges were serious. He was alleged to have fired a gun while committing a felony. Under Florida's "10-20-Life" statute, he faced a mandatory 20 yr. prison term if he went to trial and was convicted. Accordingly, he was suspended indefinitely and missed the entire 2007 campaign. Ultimately, he plead guilty to related misdemeanors that more nearly met the circumstances of the case, since Wilson was never alleged to have pointed the firearm at anyone, but only fired it in the air after having his car blocked in by an angry person with whom there had been a previous altercation. Wilson appeared to have been nearing the end of his suspension when he was dismissed for violating unspecified team and university rules. The rumor has been that he tested positive for a banned substance.

Under theThomas/Atkins precedent, that should have been it for Wilson under "The Meyer Rules."

It is not.

Wilson will be returning as a defensive lineman, apparently. We need defensive linemen, desperately.

I once sat on an airplane next to Wilson's parents. Very nice people. They told me that his first love was the defensive line, but had been encouraged to shift to offensive line since his size and agility would increase his chances of making it to the NFL. They told me that throughout his career the conversation of switching him to defensive would line would recur periodically.

It's clear that Meyer's worried about this defense. For some reason, he seems to be willing to forego his stated policies to build the defense.

Frankly, I think that he didn't really believe we were going to be in an NC position at the time he booted Marcus Thomas off the team in 2006. Privately, he was highly critical of Chris Leak as a QB. I don't think he felt we had the offense to succeed, even with a superlative defense.

Now, circumstances are different. We have an offense of players hand-picked by Coach Meyer who are capable and prepared to run his offense, his way. He will be damned if an inadequate defense will frustrate his dream of national validation of his offense. Meyer knows he has an NC caliber offense and knows that not only is the SEC East loaded for bear, but so is the SEC West. Tennessee's biggest weaknesses are an inexperienced QB and a fat, lazy, offensively predictable coach. Georgia has no weaknesses. LSU's only true weakness is an inexperienced QB and there is plenty of good talent and good coaching at Auburn and Alabama.

Faced with this predicament, it is my opinion that Meyer's ego has gotten the best of him. And he's showing his ass, a little bit. Meyer clearly thinks he has the tools for an NC and intends to get there, by any means necessary.

I would like to see a solid explanation from him as to why Wilson is getting a third chance. For example, has he gotten straight A's since being dismissed? Has he been seen doing stadium steps and doing prodigious workouts on his own? Has he successfully completed all of the conditions of his 2 yr. probation early?

Unfortunately, the only public pronouncement from Meyer to support this development is that he's done it before for other players, we just don't know about it.

Personally, I'm sure Wilson isn't a terrible kid, his parents were sure nice. If he was going to be getting another chance, it would have tremendous credibility if he spent this entire year on his own dime and excelled instead of transferring, as a player of his talent could easily do.

Meyer will find that this will not quite be acceptable given the national stage upon which he now sits, and has used, to explain his high standards. This is not Bowling Green, it is not Utah.

Hopefully, the Florida Faithful will require more, I am relatively certain the national media and our rivals will.


murf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I don't know. Ronnie Wilson is coming back on the team as a Walk-on. That's a pretty tough call, paying for college AND playing college football?

I mean, had Meyer let Wilson back on with a scholarship after only one year, that would be one thing, but he was kicked off for a year, and presumably has earned his way back on as a walk-on. I'm also assuming this chance comes with a strict "Keep your nose clean" clause as well, but he might have seen the edge and turned around. He's at strike two, maybe he's earned that last strike?

Of course, should he so much as get a speeding ticket...

Anonymous said...

As an Alabama fan I have to ask, will he count against the 85 scholarship cap? If not, Saban needs to look into this practice.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Meyer should wag that finger at himself instead of Mark Richt.

Anonymous said...

crimson daddy - nothing but net, sir, nothing but net.

Ally said...

Urban, Urban, Urban...when are you gonna learn? If you have to win this way it just isn't worth it.

And you people thought UGA celebrating a touchdown was dirty? lmao! Stay classy Urban.

mdr1013 said...

It begins......

Unknown said...

Uuumm, I noticed at the end of the article that, in the author's opinion, spending the entire year on his own dime would lend credibility to his getting a second chance. I might suggest some better research prior to inflammatory articles like this. For example: From the Gainesville Sun (a newspaper the author should be familiar with):

"Wilson, who played left guard on the 2006 national championship team, has been paying his own way to school since returning to UF in January and will continue to do so in the fall."


"He was suspended from the team and from school for a year. Wilson completed an anger management class and community service."

The kid isn't getting his scholly back, at least not right away... he's coming back as a walk-on. He's actually doing all the things the author suggests he should do to legitimize another chance. GATOR KGB must refer to him being a double-agent Gator fan.

Henry Louis Gomez said...

You see, this is why I hate the whole "we're classier than you" aspect to college football. It's ridiculous. I said it last year when Richt pulled his stupid stunt during the game. Could it have resulted in an ugly fight? Sure. Does it mean that coach Richt has no class (or the University of Georgia, its students faculty and fans for that matter)? No. That's as ridiculous as claiming that Urban Meyer (and the University of Florida) have class because they didn't pull such a stunt.

Class is in the eye of the beholder.

Now I think it's equally stupid to compare two situations that have nothing to do with each other. How coach Meyer handles troubled players is certainly subject to analysis and criticism. And how coach Richt handles his sideline is also subject to analysis and criticism. But guilt in one situation does not exonerate guilt in the other.

I hope that Ronnie Wilson turned his life around and that he can be a productive Gator on his own dime. I also hope the Gators run it up on the Dawgs and do some celebrating of their own.

Anonymous said...

I agree with what Henry has said; at least Coach Meyer is giving Ronnie Wilson the benefit of a doubt and meeting him halfway (by that I mean not restoring his scholarship but allowing him to walk on). If Wilson does screw up one more time, then that's it as far as his being a part of our football team is involved. Meyer did give one of his players at Utah a second chance who had alcohol problems just as he gave Marcus Thomas another shot as long as he kept off drugs (which he didn't, but that's not Meyer's fault that "Scoop" couldn't keep his nose clean).

KGB, you indicated that Meyer was critical of Chris Leak and I don't blame him for being that way. Zook babied Leak and gave him too much of a "comfort zone" - Meyer, in a roundabout way, got Leak to "nut up" and make the best of his talent. Leak was capable of doing a helluva lot more than making Zookish shotgun draws and bubble screens - and Meyer was able to being Leak out of his cocoon.

Granted this latest move involving Ronnie Wilson raises criticism of Meyer and his policies, but IMO he has the best interests of our football program in mind when making these decisions and is looking at the "big picture". Now it's up to Wilson to shape up or ship out.