Makin' It Rain in Gainesville: Will Muschamp, Janoris Jenkins, and the Myth of Florida Gator "Discipline"

Welcome, Florida fans, to the first official "Will Muschamp is Not Urban Meyer" moment of the new administration at the expense of your starting defense: Senior cornerback Janoris Jenkins, a three-year starter and All-SEC pick who by all accounts passed on a first-round projection in this week's draft to return to school, has been officially booted from the team in the wake of his second marijuana arrest in four months.

Dr. Saturday
The move marks a significant departure from the more lenient disciplinary procedures of the Urban Meyer era. . . . If Muschamp wanted to send a signal that his was going to be a very different way of doing things, booting his starting corner off the team is definitely a demonstrative way of doing so.

SB Nation
The official story from the UF Ministry of Information doesn't give any more real details, but basically it sounds like either A) Jenkins was kicked off the team, or B) his impending punishment was so bad that he decided he didn't want to go through with it. Almost every report coming out is saying he's been dismissed though.

Team Speed Kills

Am I missing something?

The above quotations come from three of the brightest and most credible college football bloggers I know, and they are in one accord (though Year2 at least allows for an alternative explanation before opting for the default answer): Will Muschamp just flexed his muscles and made a statement by dismissing Janoris Jenkins from the team.

Here’s the problem, though . . . it very much appears that Coach Muschamp did nothing of the sort.

Don’t take my word for it, though. Here’s how the Florida Gatorsnew skipper put it:

After meeting with Janoris Jenkins today, we both felt it was in his best interest to move ahead to the next stage of his career.

The official University of Florida website is similarly noncommittal, using Coach Muschamp’s quotation verbatim and adding:

Senior cornerback Janoris Jenkins is no longer part of the Florida football program.

Jenkins met Tuesday morning with first-year Gators head coach Will Muschamp and the two decided it was best to part ways.

That is not how a major university athletics program announces a player dismissal. This is how a major university athletics program announces a player dismissal:

University of Georgia redshirt freshman quarterback Zach Mettenberger has been dismissed from the Bulldog football team according to a Sunday announcement by UGA head coach Mark Richt.

According to Richt, the dismissal is a result of violation of team rules.

See the difference? You can tell that was a dismissal, because the word "dismissed" appears in the first sentence, followed by the word "dismissal" in the second sentence. Coach Richt didn’t feel the need to kick his former quarterback while he was down by speaking ill of the young man, but neither did he mince words about what the decision was and who did the deciding.

You’ll have to pardon me for not treating it as a dismissal when the head coach says "we both felt it was in his best interest," the athletic department says "the two decided it was best to part ways," and no one even hints that the player wasn’t deeply embedded in the decisionmaking process, much less that he was involuntarily dissociated from the program. That is a far cry from saying, or even suggesting, he "has been officially booted from the team," or that Coach Muschamp is "send[ing] a signal." If he’s sending a signal, he’s doing his darnedest to conceal it behind the static of the passive voice and the language of mutual consent.

Alligator Army may have deemed this a "third strike" offense, but there’s a reason why SB Nation’s Florida weblog had to ask whether the Sunshine State Saurians should change their drug policy; it’s because the Gators have "easily the nation’s most lenient policies" when it comes to football players and controlled substances. In Gainesville, a third drug offense gets a student-athlete suspended for 20 per cent of his team’s games.

20 per cent of a twelve-game regular season is 2.4 games; even rounding up, that means University of Florida policy mandated only that Jenkins miss the Gators’ first three games of the 2011 campaign. For the record, that trio of outings will be against the Florida Atlantic Owls, the UAB Blazers, and the Tennessee Volunteers, all in the Swamp.

Yes, I suppose it’s theoretically possible that Coach Muschamp decided to send a message, in spite of the fact that he appears to have done everything in his power to keep that message to himself while punishing with a dismissal an offense that neither local social convention nor official university policy deemed deserving of anything more than a three-game suspension during home games that are not likely to challenge the Orange and Blue unduly.

That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, but this could still be a highly atypical instance of the type of tough love seldom seen in Gator Nation. I mean, just consider the ill-fated Jenkins’s next stop now that his college football career is finished. Wherever will this unfortunate lad end up now that this avenue has been foreclosed?

Oh, yeah . . . Jenkins is bound for the supplemental NFL Draft.

That’s right, boys and girls: Janoris Jenkins is headed to the National Football League. Well, then, no wonder Coach Muschamp and his wayward player "both felt it was in his best interest to move ahead to the next stage of his career" when "the two decided it was best to part ways." Yeah, when faced with the choice between being suspended for one-fourth of his senior season or getting paid now, Jenkins, who almost went pro last year, opted to let Coach Muschamp throw him into the briar patch.

So does this represent a sea change for the Sunshine State Saurians? Call this parting of the ways by mutual consent a dismissal if you must, but, with all due respect to my fellow denizens of the blogosphere who view this as the start of a new era of Gator discipline, my reaction is to paraphrase a saying familiar to those lawyers who practice in the criminal law arena: "Don’t cry crocodile tears on my shoes and tell me it’s raining."

Go ‘Dawgs!

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