Jonotthan Harrison tells tale of “crumbling” Florida Gators locker room during 2013 season

UPDATED STORY (8:00 p.m.): Jonotthan Harrison clarifies comments, defends Florida Gators coach Will Muschamp

Story below updated on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m.

According to former Florida Gators center Jonotthan Harrison, a fifth-year senior in 2013 who was starting in the middle of the offensive line for his third-straight year, Florida’s continuously declining play and subsequent 4-8 record had as much to do with the team’s off-field issues as it did on-field performance.

Discussing the situation with Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Harrison provided insight into locker room incidents, pre-game distractions and significant infighting that derailed the Gators as they dealt with mounting injuries, a growing number of losses and increasing fan unrest.

Dunne begins by relating Harrison’s view of an incident that occurred following Florida’s embarrassing loss to Georgia Southern in its second-to-last game of the season.

Pads were still on. Tempers were flaring. Head coach Will Muschamp ordered a player to talk to the team. Anyone. So, being a fifth-year senior, center Jonotthan Harrison stepped into the middle of the circle.

And then one defensive lineman — Harrison won’t use names — yanked him out and shoved a freshman linebacker to the center. The two shouted at each other with coaches grabbing Harrison and pulling him out of the locker room before punches were thrown.

“We were falling apart,” Harrison said, “crumbling as a team.”

Dunne then explains, in his own words, that Harrison painted a picture of “complete chaos top to bottom” within the locker room with “players point[ing] fingers” at each other and the coaching staff for the team’s problems.

“We had a lot of individuals on the team,” Harrison said. “Having individuals on your team kind of kills your team. We had people who thought they were entitled because of the school that they went to. … There was always someone to blame. No one wanted to take it on themselves.”

There was also a lack of focus on football before games, according to Harrison, who claims he tried to lead and set a positive example for the underclassmen.

Instead, Florida’s players were, as Dunne wrote, “sneaking girls into the team hotel or sneaking out themselves” the night or two before games.

“How serious can you take this game,” Harrison asked, “if that’s what you’re focused on 24-48 hours before the game?”

UF’s eight-game losing streak and sub-.500 record were firsts for the program in more than three decades, dating back to a winless season in 1979.

Comments from Muschamp in early April, with the Gators in the middle of spring practice, appear to corroborate Harrison’s overall perspective on the season.

“I think our attitude is much better and much more positive, especially on the offensive side of the ball. I think our guys have a lot of confidence in what we’re doing. They have a belief and trust in what we’re doing. I think we lost that late in the year,” he explained.

“That’s changed automatically without having to do anything. I think in fall camp we’re going to create some adversity like we normally do; our guys need to learn to battle through that. I think they will. I think at the end of the day, when you lose confidence in what you’re doing, that creates the ‘woe is me’ mentality and that’s what we need to battle through and I think certainly we’ve made some strides there.”

Muschamp claims that Florida spent the entire offseason focused on leadership and teamwork with the team making significant gains in those areas.

Updated at 12:30 p.m.: In the aftermath of Harrison’s comments, two Gators defensive linemen have taken to Twitter to discuss their frustrations with the story.

“you a thot for that bra,” wrote redshirt senior defensive tackle Leon Orr to Harrison on the social media service, using a slang term for a female to address his ex-teammate.

Added senior DT Damien Jacobs in a public message to Harrison: “dam brah that was cold and uncalled for we all suppose to be bros.”

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44 Responses to “Jonotthan Harrison tells tale of “crumbling” Florida Gators locker room during 2013 season”

  1. Dave Massey says:

    I think it was pretty clear the team “quit” last year. Led by the defense laying down like little girls because the offense was playing so poorly. Championship caliber players don’t do this. So we will see if anything changes in their attitudes this year if things don’t go perfect. Fight to the last whistle no matter what, is what guys with heart do. Maybe they should show them film of Patric Young in the UConn final four game. He has become one of my all time favorite Gators just for that game even though I had great respect for him before that. The dude tried to pick the team up and put it on his back, and almost did it. If the footballers can’t do that, they are doomed.

  2. Tguygator says:

    Excellent post, Dave. Pat Young is my fav.

    Another concern: it was apparent the coaches loss control of the team. Where was the adult leadership?

  3. Gatorgrad79 says:

    This sounds to me like no faith (or maybe no respect) in the coaches. Players who believe that ‘Coach” will find an answer and get us back on track (like Billy D’s players believe) will give 110% to the last whistle. Many are projecting a max of 5 wins and no bowl appearance again for the Gators based on our daunting schedule. If that happens we will see if Muschamp has recruited any ‘character players’ or only skill sets….

  4. SFLBigDog says:

    Thats what happens when the coaches quit on the team. If youre not even going to try to win with your backup QB, what message does that send to the team? The fish rots from the head down. Why werent coaches taking control? Suspending players? Hopefully they learned a lesson.

  5. Shane says:

    Gatorgrad79 I haven’t heard one person project us to win 5 games. If that happens muschamp won’t have to worry about the locker chemistry anymore. He will be to busy interviewing for dc jobs. Won’t happen because we will win 10 and compete for the east

    • gatorboi352 says:

      “Won’t happen because we will win 10 and compete for the east”

      ROFLMAO

      Pretty fitting your username is “Shane” with talk like that. Matthews is the only guy to claim such a thing until you just did here.

      8 or 9 wins is the absolute ceiling with this team next year. That would be a best case scenario.

      • Aligator says:

        This past season was indicative of two things: Muschamp’s leadership, or lack there of, in the face of adversity and the god awful injuries.

        I feel like with Roper we will see and 8-4 season, with a bunch of promise. We will make a bowl game and probably win that is it is the right one.

        Our defense should be solid and our offense will be above average. I think Roper will be smart and use the talent the way they had been recruited previous to Muschamp’s arrival. I think we should be spared of the crazy injuries and we will do much better this year.

        But make no mistake, Muschamp is an idiot.

  6. Tony Massey says:

    Dave……get to work

  7. cline says:

    Can we just move on from last year. GO GATORS!

    • Aligator says:

      I would love to move on from last year, i think that most everyone has, however, we still have Muschamp as HC and he is an idiot. I love the university, the program, the athletes and a bunch of the coaches, not Muschamp and since this is America, I can do just that. And no faking it to fan morale is not the answer! Go Gators!!

  8. gatorboi352 says:

    “There was also a lack of focus on football before games… Instead, Florida’s players were, as Dunne wrote, “sneaking girls into the team hotel or sneaking out themselves” the night or two before games.”

    Yep, sounds like Muschamp is the guy for the job. *eye roll*

    Keep those heads in the sand, Muschamp supporters. Shades of the Ron Zook era abound, and I’m hardly talking Wins and Losses.

    Great Defensive Coordinator does not equal Competent Head Coach.

  9. Shannon Snell says:

    What happens when a coach quits on a team? Google Urban Meyer.

    Muschamp and staff will be okay. Let’s see how this shakes out. Unfortunately for the seniors, maybe last season is exact what this team, and more specifically, this fan base needed.

    • Ken (CA) says:

      nice to hear your perspective on this Shannon, having been on the inside. I heartily agree with your comment on Meyer and still don’t get it, as “the cubboard” was clearly not empty when he left or WM wouldn’t have had all those draft picks on defense and 11 win 2nd year.

      I do find it interesting how Harrison talks about how folks needed to step up and take responsibility and it was all about “me” and entitlement, yet his wholse statement, while probably accurate in a lot of ways, never once mentioned that he had done anything to contribute negative to the team and even “stepped up” to leadership to speak after GSU. Yet other than getting angry at being pulled away, he takes no responsibility for being part of the “team” and part of the “problem” as well. Shouldn’t teams police each other? Players mentalities come from the leaders, and if a 5th year senior doesn’t stand up and say “dude, focus, the women can come later” or whatever doesn’t seem like much of a leader or teammate to me as well. He takes no responsibility his comments and points the finger at the rest of the team, just like he is blaming the rest of the team for doing when they should be looking at themselves.

    • Ken (CA) says:

      Based on those tweets, sounds like the Gators need to hire that UNC education specialist who just resigned because she was frustrated that the school didn’t take it seriously that so many football players were reading either below the 4th or 8th graded level.

      • Kno'ole says:

        You probably need her help too.

        • Ken (CA) says:

          oh, now aren’t you clever! Just a little bit of difference adding an extra d to a clearly enunciated sentance due to a lagging s ystem through a firewall than ““you a thot for that bra”

          Considering your username, though, without the academic testing violations half of your althletes wouldn’t have passed to begin with, so I shouldn’t be surprised by that witty response!

  10. G2 says:

    This kind of story doesn’t bode well for Muschamps future here, coaching staff losing the team, players quitting on each other etc. My gut feeling is things will improve with a new offense to at least 8 wins. Ga and S Car should be down this year so maybe we win the east. That might be what it takes for WM to survive.

  11. Oldflyer says:

    This kind of story is typical after a disastrous season. So what? You can point the finger at individual defections, and find incidents of conflict in every losing locker room. We have evidence of worse in Meyer’s locker room after a better season than 2013.

    Of course the story does give Boi boy the opportunity to take another shot at Muschamp. Death, taxes, and Boi. All predictable.

    The 2013 season is history; we know what it entailed, and we have some pretty good evidence of the reasons that it was so bad. I am sure that as it unraveled there were compounding factors; group dynamics are fairly predictable.

    We won’t have to wait too long to see if the Gators are back on track.

    • gatorboi352 says:

      Still baffles me that the spelling of my internet handle still owns you to no end. It’s a username on a website blog, not my Birth Certificate.

      Back to the important things, Muschamp is in a make or break year. When it breaks, I expect you on here first and foremost to offer up your assessment to what happened and where it went wrong. I expect to be disappointed.

  12. 1974Gator says:

    I’m concerned that Muschamp is playing the buddy and the bully roles with the team. He seems to be so invested in the defense yet gets so upset and launches on the players during games when mistakes are made. As the HC, I feel, he should leave the reprimands to his assistant coaches and never allow the spankings to air publically. The entitlement thing reared its ugly head last under Meyer and may still be hanging around. Sad to hear.

  13. Joseph says:

    so….are Florida fans going to blame Urban for this too?

  14. SW FL Joe says:

    Sounds like a reflection on what was happening between Pease and Davis.

  15. jimmyjohns says:

    How did Harrison get linked up with a guy from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel?

  16. sjkoepp says:

    Head Coach leadership right now is obviously up for debate, but outside of Harrison, Halapio and maybe Kitchens I don’t think there was a leader left on the team at the end of the year that was healthy. Compound that with the fact that a fantastic class of leaders left the year before, and you’re looking at next to no team leadership on here. No one should be surprised at all by any of this stuff.

  17. Shannon Snell says:

    “so….are Florida fans going to blame Urban for this too?”

    I don’t think anyone is placing blame on him… He proved himself to be a dishonest liar… These issues are squarely on this staff.

    • Gatoralum88 says:

      Shannon, you’re absolutely right! The Gators current problems are squarely on THIS staff.

      Regarding Meyer, “let it go”! His health issues in December of 2009 were very real & serious(on good authority) & while 2010 was a down year after back-to-back 13-&-1′s he still led 2 Gator teams to NC’s. When he was healthy, he worked his a** off on the recruiting trail for UF, landed Tebow, landed Harvin, & left the cupboard far from bare when he left. I don’t begrudge Meyer ANYTHING! He was born & raised in Ohio & if Tressel were still OSU’s head coach I believe Meyer would still be in broadcasting. The Buckeyes got down on their hands & knees begging for help & backed up a Brink’s truck with $24 million in it. Had he NOT taken that job he’d have forever been an outcast in his home state. IMO, he deserves more of a break.

  18. SW FL Joe says:

    It was the first play of the second half, and senior wide receiver Solomon Patton took a jet sweep off right tackle. Senior center Jonotthan Harrison pulled and got locked up with junior wide receiver Quinton Dunbar. The two Gators remained engaged throughout the play, seemingly unaware of each other’s orange-and-blue uniforms.

    Yeah I can see why a d lineman wouldn’t want to hear any of Harrison’s pearls of wisdom after the GSU game. The game where the Gators became the “not top 10″ joke of the week.

    • Gatoralum88 says:

      Joke of the “week”? FYI, in case you didn’t know, that play ended up being ESPN’s not top 10 “WORST of 2013″ (embarrassing).

  19. fire muschamp says:

    F×ck Muschamp

  20. Joe says:

    Those who continue to fret about the past will never progress. This is a non-story in relation to the current situation at Florida. Maybe time to move on?

  21. Geremy Kendrick says:

    Even though this story is probably true, I don’t think that Harrison should had have leaked it like that. That’s definitely a bit thotish as described by Leon Orr. The team is supposed to be the tightest brotherhood. But nevertheless we’re gonna be awesome this year, no doubt. I predict 10 wins. Go gators!!!

  22. ergator says:

    Shannon,

    As a former player, what is your take on how many games Muschamp must win this season to keep his job? I say he must win the SEC East this season.

  23. gatorhippy says:

    Very disheartening story…still processing this information a day later…

  24. Timmy T says:

    This is a great story! At least we know the players were pissed after losing to GSU. I’d be more concerned if a story came out and said we were in the locker room consoling each other with “good game, brah.” Last season was last season, and no two seasons are the same. I’m liking what I’ve heard and read thus far about next year’s team. I’m thinking we’ll be pretty damn hard to beat, but we also play a lot of teams that will be hard to beat. We’ll find out soon enough how good we are or are not. I’m looking forward to watching it all play out and hoping for the best instead of bitching about the past. Like the regime or not, this is what we are bringing to the dance. Go Gators!!!

  25. Gatorgrad79 says:

    @ ‘Shane’ look at the schedule.
    Assuming we win Idaho, Eastern Michigan and Kentucky (who will be much better this year but luckily we get them at home and Driskell will have 2 games under his belt in the new system), we then have a possible 5 losses in a row – Alabama, Tennessee, LSU, Missouri, Georgia and then we should beat Vandy especially as they are dealing with a new coaching staff. That makes us 4 -5 with A very strong S. Carolina coming up and then a win over Eastern Ky and a loss to FSU in Tallahassee. It is VERY feasible that we will be 5 -7 and miss a bowl game. Where do you see an upset, because we are picked to be ahead of only KY and Vandy in the east and I am not sold on our O-line which must be very good to keep Driskell from becoming road kill like he was last year until Tennessee finished him off.
    If we lose 5 in a row in the middle – what will keep this team from throwing in the towel just as they did last year. Please do not call me a negative fan because I went to EVERY game last year home and away. At Missouri the team fought to the end and I thought they could pull it out, but by South Carolina (I was sitting behind the tean on the 4th row) they were totally disengaged. Whichever side of the ball was not on the field were literally standing around with their backs to the field talking to friends in the stands and laughing like it was a scrimmage. In 20 years of traveling after this team, I have never seen anything like it. SOMETHING happened between the Missouri loss and So. Carolina game that was very different from the teams of the past! (PS, I am a Bull Gator and send my $$$$ to this team and pay much more to travel to all the home and away games – win or lose I support this team, but ignoring the issues won’t make things better).

  26. junior says:

    There you go… it starts at the top and more proof mustaint is not the coach to lead our beloved Gators.

  27. Wes says:

    Anyone who thinks that players just started sneaking girls into the team hotel or sneaking out of the team hotel since Muschamp’s been captain of the ship is naive at best. And anyone who thinks that a coach has failed because players have aggressive disagreements have no concept of what’s happened in the past in our locker room. Go ask Urban, go ask Steve. They will tell you that they saw it–on both accounts.

  28. Shannon Snell says:

    “As a former player, what is your take on how many games Muschamp must win this season to keep his job? I say he must win the SEC East this season.”

    I personally think he has to make it to a January 1 bowl. Outback, Capital One… If for some reason we make it to the playoffs (I don’t need the Allen Iverson spoofs here), he buys himself 2 years, unless he has another 2013 season…. Anything less, he’ll be putting his resume on Monster.

  29. bullg8r52 says:

    Given the UF O-line couldn’t block anybody (except for each other) last year, I think Harrison would be the last guy to open his mouth. And him stepping into the middle to demonstrate leadership in the locker room? Surely you jest. Would seem a guy needs to do his own job first.

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