I'm no physicist, and the closest I've ever been to a theoretical mathematician was probably at the bar of the TGI Friday's in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Airport (nice guy, Dodgers fan, on his way back from some conference). But even I can tell that Urban Meyer is having some trouble with the fundamental building blocks of existence. No, I'm not talking about Percy Harvin's bum heel. At least not today.
I'm talking about Meyer's comments at a recent booster event in Miami. Meyer said that it's harder to judge players' character these days because "The NCAA is pulling us off the recruiting process", at least according to ESPN . Meyer continued "I'm not allowed to go out anymore. I'm not allowed to text message. I'm trying to find out as best I can. You just keep re-evaluating."
This response was of course precipitated by the recent scandal brought on by former UF safety Jamar Hornsby's using a teammate's dead girlfriend's stolen credit card 70 times to buy gas. To Meyer's credit, he kicked Hornsby off the team in short order after the allegations came to light. No "letting the system take its course" or referring questions to the university judicial office. Good for him. He also called the girl's father to apologize . Again, that's the stand up thing to do and he should be applauded for it.
But Urb is all wet on this latest justification for player misconduct. Why? Because Hornsby signed with Florida in 2006, when head coaches were allowed to be on the road. In fact, head coaches were only kept on campus this year after other coaches began following Meyer's lead by recruiting on the road extensively. Meyer was previously the unchallenged king of the head coach visit. And this was also of course before the text message ban. Hornsby signed with UF at the height of Meyer's finger-flapping recruiting heyday.
So, Jamar Hornsby may or may not be a scoundrel or a criminal or any number of other things. I don't know the guy. I do know that college kids do stupid things, some of which are criminal and many of which are morally questionable.
But I also know this: Urban Meyer had every modern tool available at his disposal to evaluate the young man's character. Perhaps he was wrong. If so I don't fault him for that. If you're going to be too damned something (and we all are, what with being human and all) , being too damned trusting of your fellow man is not a bad option. But don't blame the NCAA for your poor judgment or poor team discipline after the fact.
Because in order for the text messaging ban or the prohibition against head coaches on the road to have had any effect, they would have to have been in place when you recruited the guy, coach. Which they weren't. They also weren't in place before Nyan Boateng broke into his ex-girlfriend's home , or before Ian Smith passed out in the men's room at Amici's. I'm calling charades on this. Meyer is the most recent, possibly the first, but probably not the last coach to invoke this line.
Don't believe any coach who tries to pull this over on his loyal fanbase. The fact is, most high school boys have some character flaws. How do I know this? Because I was one. So were many of you. But I think we can all agree that there's a lot of growin' up to be done between the ages of 17 and 21. College football players do that growin' up under the watchful eye of people like Coach Meyer, who as employees of our nation's colleges and univiersities are acting, for limited purposes, in loco parentis . That is, in place of parents. College coaches have a responsibility both to their schools and to their players. Sometimes they guess wrong on a guy, and when they do, they should discipline accordingly and admit they messed up. It's going to happen at every school eventually.
But they shouldn't blame the NCAA. The NCAA didn't offer the scholarship. The NCAA didn't schedule the character education classes. The NCAA doesn't patrol Austin or Ann Arbor or Athens on a Saturday night looking for bad behavior. When a college athlete does stupid things, it's his or her fault. It might be the coach's fault for not making the school's expectations clear. But it is most certainly not the NCAA's fault.