2010 SEC Media Days: Hammond’s scholarship pulled, Pouncey reactions and other Gators notes

By Adam Silverstein
July 22, 2010

Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer and seniors center Mike Pouncey, safety Ahmad Black and defensive end Justin Trattou represented the University of Florida on Wednesday by appearing at a number of press conferences at the 2010 Southeastern Conference Media Days from Hoover, AL.

HAMMOND’s SCHOLARSHIP REVOKED

Though most of the pre-event hoopla surrounded allegations that former Gators center Maurkice Pouncey accepted $100,000 from a runner for an unnamed agent, the biggest piece of news Meyer divulged was that (former?) Florida wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr. has had his football scholarship pulled after being arrested for driving under the influence and underage possession of alcohol in June.

“Frankie Hammond, Jr. is off of scholarship at Florida. If he tries to come back and play, which I understand he will, he will have to pay his own way and earn a spot like every other person who would like to be a member of Florida football – on his own,” Meyer said. “There will be playing time taken away from him, and he will be on probation like other players who have made mistakes. If he does something again, it will be probable dismissal. As of now, he is not on the football team. He is working out and training away from the team, and he’s off of scholarship. And we’ll see how he shows up and if he goes. If he goes, then we’ll make the adjustment as we move on.”

Last Friday, Hammond was sentenced to a year of probation and 50 hours of community service as part of a plea deal with the prosecution of his case. He was suspended from team activities by the coaching staff and university just one day after being arrested.

REACTIONS TO POUNCEY ALLEGATIONS

Before the Gators had the chance to be asked about the rumors surrounding Pouncey, the player denied that he was paid by an agent through a two sentence statement that was released early Wednesday. “I did not accept $100,000, it is an absolutely ridiculous claim,” he said. “I have completely cooperated with the investigation and answered any and all questions put to me.”

Nevertheless, Meyer and Florida’s players were asked about the alleged incident.

“Anytime [there is] an accusation about a recruiting rule or a phone call or I simply hear it, I go right to our compliance and they go through the right channels. And then I’ll go to the source,” Meyer said. “When the [Maurkice] Pouncey anonymous note or whatever came through, it went right to our compliance, I went to Maurkice and he said it didn’t happen. I certainly didn’t investigate – we have people that do that. I have not been this concerned. I don’t like our pictures going across the ticker and everything else. If something happened, then he should be punished severely. If it didn’t happen, then that’s nonsense. I heard his denial today, and we stand by Maurkice Pouncey.”

“First, I’ll start by saying I talked to my brother and it’s not true,” his brother Mike told the press. “He pretty much cleared that up in the statement today. I feel bad about it because it ruined somebody’s name that don’t really know who me and my brother are.
Those that know who we are know we’re not those kind of people. We pride ourselves on having a great clean name. It’s just hard right now. […] We’ve been totally cooperative with any questions that they have to ask us. We’re just ready for it to be done with. […] My mom and my dad, they took it real personal because, you know, we come from a great family. We pride ourselves on being great people, having a family-type organization as far as our family goes. You know, they took it pretty tough.”

AND THE REST…

With the two juiciest tidbits out of the way, the rest of the media availabilities focused on the latest news surrounding agents tampering with student-athletes and, you know, the upcoming football season. Some choice quotes have been provided…after the break:

Meyer’s opening statement: “It’s year six for myself and members of our staff, and there’s a little bit of newness and freshness in Gainesville right now with the loss of some great players, but i think we have some great players coming up through the ranks. There is an air of excitement in Gainesville, and justifiably so.”

Meyer on resigning and coming back: “I think some things went on, behind the scenes, that led to that. Is there any regret? None whatsoever.”

Meyer on policing agents and singling out runners: “You can’t. For a coach to figure out who a runners is at a nightclub at 2:30 in the morning…I’ve been asleep for four hours. Coaches can’t do that. We’ve tried to. At Florida, we have security for one reason, and it’s not so much for the fans, it’s for people we don’t want around our players. I heard a comment about ‘How do you keep the agents off campus?’ Arguably one of the most ridiculous statements I’ve ever heard. Because they are off campus, they’re not on our campus, and if they are, they’re hiding behind bushes. In the history of civilization – without getting over-dramatic here – to fix a problem there’s a set of rules and laws. If you violate a rule or a law, you have to pay a price – a serious price – or people continue to violate those rules or laws. A student-athlete losing a season of eligibility or games or whatever, that’s significant. That’s going to affect their livelihood, that affects their name, reputation, the school’s reputation. The other end of that has to be severely punished as well. […] It’s an epidemic right now.”

Meyer on if his relationship with Tennessee will improve with Derek Dooley at the helm: “I have a lot of respect for the new coach at Tennessee. I spent a lot of time talking with him when we were in Destin. You can tell he has everything in order, and he’s a high-character guy. And it’s kind of neat to see that. I have a lot of respect for that coach.”

Meyer on the Alabama game: “Miami, Ohio is in the Mid-America Confernece and then we play South Florida the following week. That’s our focus right now.”

Meyer on the proposal to not offer scholarships to recruits until after July 1 of their junior year: “It’ll be difficult to enforce, but I think it’s a great rule. […] If we enforce it, I think it’s a great rule.”

Meyer on changes to his regular season routine: “I think the stress of a job like we have – that wasn’t the issue. […] The wear and tear of being a football coach, I just have to be a little smarter. The issue was not coaching at Florida, the issue was what’s going on and that we’re not finding it. We found it in January, and that stress of knowing there is a health issue has been relieved.”

Meyer on sanctioning agents who break rules: “There has to be regulation on both ends, and I do believe the NCAA does a good job, our conference does a great job. If you commit a violation as a player, you sit – you don’t play. Now what happens on the other end? If one end is being punished and the other is not, then first of all that’s not fair. It’s not right. And its not going to work. Somehow that has to be figured out.”

Meyer on preparing redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley: “I think he’s equipped. If he was a freshman or sophomore, we would give a lot of thought to that. We have a real clear understanding of what John Brantley can do – it’s what the guy’s around him [can do]. We have a lot of talent, it’s just I can’t list you the top six-seven playmakers in order. I know we have them. […] One common characteristic of a great quarterback is great personnel around him. And I think we have it, but it’s not identified yet. So that’s going to be a big job for us in training camp.”

Meyer on how the offense will evolve: “Ours is not going to be dictated as much by the quarterback. I know what he can do. It’s the people around him. I think everybody is looking for that Percy [Harvin] or the guy that can do both. […] You take a guy like Chris Rainey, he’s a valuable player for us. Andre Debose, if you lined up and do both? If he can, our style is very effective. If you don’t have that, then you’ll see more traditional. Once again, we know what John can do. It’s what these cats can do around him is going to be the key thing in the next month.”

Meyer on replacing Harvin: “I don’t know if we’ll ever have a ‘next Percy.'”

Meyer on his team’s mood going into the season: “I’m hoping I’m getting a very angry team. I like coaching angry teams.”

Meyer on a pow-wow with Alabama head coach Nick Saban: “Coach Saban and I visited briefly. He has much more awareness about the NFL than I do after coaching there. I’m not sure what else you can call it, though. I use the term ‘predator’ because [the agents are] there. Since my first day at Florida, I’ve never seen anything like it. We have security for one reason, and that’s to make sure that people are away from our players. That’s only when they’re with us, however. The comment I made before is if you’re allowed to go do things that you’re not supposed to do without punishment, you’re going to continue doing it. As a matter of fact, you’re rewarded for it. That’s not just talking about agents. It’s talking about violations of NCAA rules. If there’s a law or rule in place, you punish it to the full extent if you can. That has to happen with the agents. I think the SEC and the NCAA, because we’ve been involved, we’ve seen the investigation in the way they go after the one half of it. Now the other half has to be stopped. I think association between the National Football League and the NCAA and college coaches, because I have a lot of confidence in Roger Goodell, that’s from a personal experience of watching him work, also meeting with him. I think he recognizes, I have not spoken to him about it, but I think it’s an epidemic right now. That epidemic has to get fixed. I think there’s so many qualified people at the top areas, quality people that can get that fixed.”

Meyer on Steve Addazio: “Yeah, he’s associate head coach, which he still has a little more responsibility than he had a year ago. When he was in the interim position, he was a day-to-day operations man. Issues show up every day, whether it be academic, discipline, recruiting, whatever. He handled a lot of the situations. He’ll continue to handle, as will Chuck Heater, I’ve done with a lot of assistance from other people, some delegation on our staff. Everybody has some responsibility. But Steve as associate head coach will be responsible for a lot more than he probably has been in the past. That’s just day-to-day operations of the program. He’s an offensive coordinator, offensive line coach.”

Meyer on the Gators’ big 2010 signing class: “We went out with the intent. We changed that four years ago. There was no discussion about redshirting. If that comes up, we don’t get that young man and move on. We’re gonna play you. If you don’t play at Florida, it’s because you’re not good enough to play, it’s not because we’re saving you for down the road. We kind of learned our lesson and I was educated down in Florida. Here, I think we lost five guys as juniors this year. So we put on accelerated rate to graduate, accelerated rate to play. We understand that a young person who picks Florida, that’s part of the process. Graduate, win championships, if blessed, go on to the NFL. We don’t hinder that. Go do it. We’ll get you on the field as soon as we can. I think this freshmen class, you’ll see a bunch of guys playing.”

Pouncey on Brantley as a leader: “He’s been doing real good. He looked really good in the spring. Me and him worked a lot this off-season about understanding transitioning. He’s been looking real good. He’s been leading that skill position group as far as the receivers and running backs go. We’re looking for a lot of great things out of John Brantley this season.”

Pouncey on taking the SEC back from Alabama: “We based our whole off-season on being accountable. Alabama is a great team. They beat us last year. We’re looking forward to getting back to that SEC championship game. It’s going to take a lot of hard work and dedication. We lost some key players. But we got a lot of young guys that are going to step up and prove themselves this year.”

Pouncey on Rainey’s emergence: “He’s going to have a big impact. He’s playing more like a Percy Harvin-type player this year. He’s going to be playing the special teams. He put on some weight, got some weight on him now. The SEC is tough if you got no weight on you. He’s been looking real good. Knows his plays this year. We’re confident with him being in the game.”

Black on Rainey’s ability: “Rainey’s an athlete, you could put him at kicker and he’d probably be good.”

Black on becoming a leader: “I’ve been through a lot. This is probably one of the toughest [offseasons] we’ve had. We’ve got to get guys ready to play. There are a lot of shoes to fill, and we have to get guys ready so they can be physically and mentally prepared so they can get out there and play.”

Photo Credit: Butch Dill/Associated Press

3 Comments

  1. Mr2Bits says:

    Really surprised Hammond had his scholarship pulled. Guess he is being made an example of that this crap has to end, no more slap on the wrists.

    Either way, he’ll still be on the team but know he gets stiffed with a 50k fine otherwise known as tuition and living costs.

  2. GATOR CREW says:

    Kudos to coach Meyer, I think he will finally get their attention to stay out of trouble!!!!

  3. sammy says:

    Florida is a public school and Gainesville is an inexpensive place to live, so I don’t quite think the cost of this will be $50k (maybe with legal costs, but I imagine most of that is paid for). Hammond was like 2x the legal limit, so it wasn’t like he was just a little tipsy and got busted, he was really in no condition to drive. He seems like a good kid who will learn from this mistake, and hopefully others will, too.

Top