Florida Gators at 2013 SEC Media Days: Main Post – News & Notes: Muschamp’s shot at Meyer, injuries, players, coaches | Game times vs. Toledo, Miami set | Dominique Easley predictably steals the show | VIDEOS: Florida players have fun interviewing each other
With the Florida Gators drawing criticism for the way the program has dealt with its players following brushes with the law, spurned on by the drugging up of past Gainesville, FL, police reports following the recent first-degree murder charge against Aaron Hernandez, head coach Will Muschamp felt it was necessary to address the topic while at the 2013 Southeastern Conference Media Days on Tuesday.
Muschamp called the Hernandez incident “a horrible tragedy” and “something bigger than a Florida problem,” noting that he feels for the victim and believes the entire situation is a great misfortune. “We’re talking about a life,” he said, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “It’s a horrible situation.”
He later took things a step further, stating matter-of-factly that it is the job of a college coaching staff to watch over the players it recruits to join the program not only on the field but off of it as well. He said the coaches owe it to those players and their parents to do whatever they can to ensure the student-athletes head down the right path.
“You’re 100% responsible,” Muschamp said.
“When you sign a student-athlete to come to the University of Florida, I look at his parents, guardians, whoever is important to him in his life, tell them it’s my job to be an extension of what’s already happened at home. But you’re 100 percent responsible for the young man. Everything that happens.
“I can’t possibly know everything that happens every single night with our football team. You also can’t stick your head in the sand and pretend everything is OK either. You need to be very aware of the kind of guys your guys are hanging out with.
“I encourage our assistants, our life skills coordinator, Terry Jackson, to be with our guys, help them grow and mature.
“But you’re 100 percent responsible for every student-athlete on your football team.”
In light of the Hernandez arrest and numerous other off-the-field incidents concerning current SEC student-athletes that have made national news this offseason, conference commissioner Mike Slive made a statement of his own on Tuesday.
“At the same time we talk about our successes on the field and in the classroom, we cannot ignore the recent off the field incidents involving both current and former student-athletes,” he said. “Not all student-athletes fulfill the high expectations we have for them. While the negative actions of a few garner headlines, the fact is that the vast majority of these young people conduct themselves appropriately.
“Notwithstanding the fact that our institutions have mechanisms in place to recognize problems, support systems to address personal issues, policies to provide implementation of discipline, and the willingness to enforce these policies, it is a crushing disappointment when, despite all of these efforts, a young person throws away the opportunity for a promising future.
“We are not naïve enough to think we can put an end to all unacceptable behavior. But that doesn’t mean we won’t continue to try, try and try.”