In today's edition of Completely Unsurprising News About Urban Meyer's Commitment To Disciplining Talented Football Players, former Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins tells Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi that his dismissal from Florida wouldn't have happened if Urban Meyer were still around in Gainesville.
"No doubt, if Coach Meyer were still coaching, I'd still be playing for the Gators," says Jenkins, a star cornerback and a potential first-round draft pick whom Muschamp booted from UF's team after being arrested twice for possession of marijuana during the offseason. "Coach Meyer knows what it takes to win."
Bianchi uses that to take a pickax to Meyer's integrity in typical Bianchi form, dismissing Jenkins as "a decent kid who just got caught up in the legal nonsense that infiltrated Meyer's program" without mentioning that he got arrested three times in a little over three years as a Gator. Bianchi's slams of Meyer and praise of Will Muschamp seems a little like painting with black and white, but that's nothing new, really.
What is new, sort of, is Jenkins' completely petty "knows what it takes to win" hogwash. It's unfair to Jenkins' Florida teammates, Muschamp, and Meyer.
Jenkins was kept around in Gainesville last year despite having previously been arrested, and the Gators didn't do the winning thing on the scale that Meyer had gotten Florida fans accustomed to in 2010. It takes more than one very good cornerback to win at a level that is expected at Florida, and for Jenkins — who played very well in 2010, but also made the critical error on the fake field goal in the LSU game that led to Florida's loss — to assert that Meyer keeping him would have won the Gators more games is haughty and dismissive of the rest of Florida's players at the very least.
Jenkins might not see it that way, but instead as praise of Meyer and slagging off of Muschamp. That's fine, but it's also unfair: Jenkins has no reference for what Muschamp can do as a head coach because no one does, except he's also forfeited the privilege to speak from an insider's perspective on Muschamp because he couldn't abide by the rules for long enough to make it to the field. Jenkins knows how Meyer won, but has no idea how Muschamp will win or lose, and is doing the sort of embittered bit one might expect about a player exiled from the warm ensconce of Gainesville and Florida football to Terry Bowden's fixer-upper at North Alabama.
But anyone who criticizes Meyer's discipline as purely craven self-interest without mentioning the stories of Marty Johnson and Avery Atkins is either being disingenuous or woefully uninformed. (I think you can figure out which of those things Bianchi and Jenkins are.) Meyer really did find it hard to cut the cord with miscreants, but I think his discipline policy had less to do with winning football games and more to do with thinking that he could mold some of the troublemakers he came across into better people.
Helping Johnson turn his life around is part of that; regretting not trying harder to do that before Atkins' life spiraled out of control is part of that. Getting a better football team on the field was part of it, too, but only part: If I had to guess, I think Meyer would have kept Jenkins, but not without some suspension and an understanding that he had burned through all but his last chance.
I still wish Janoris Jenkins well: I have a tremendous respect for how well he can play cornerback when fully motivated. I just wish he knew better than to pop off to Mike Bianchi about a situation he seems unable to fully grasp.