Here is a timeline: Florida tight end A.C. Leonard was arrested on a misdemeanor domestic battery charge on February 15; news of that arrest broke on February 16, and Will Muschamp suspended Leonard that evening, saying "This behavior will not be tolerated" in a statement. Leonard entered a not guilty plea on the charge on February 22.
He was then allowed to practice at some point this week, with Muschamp saying in a Wednesday statement that "A.C. Leonard has been cleared to return to practice only. He still has a lot of things to work through before his status for the fall is addressed." Thursday, Antonya English of The Tampa Bay Times reported that the Gainesville State Attorney's office formally filed a misdemeanor battery charge against Leonard.
That coming after Muschamp's semi-reinstatement was evidently enough for Mr. SEC's John Pennington to get his keyboard a-whirring.
And that doesn’t make Muschamp’s action the day before look too good.
But it’s another black eye for a Florida program that has had more than its share of run-ins with the law since Urban Meyer touched down in Gainesville back in 2006. Leonard was the ninth Gator arrested since Muschamp took over the UF program in January of last year.
But Pennington admits that there's still a chance that Leonard does not stand trial for the charge, and his post does nothing more than rehash the same details in the same police report that we've all been going on for six weeks.
I'm going to hazard a guess that Muschamp and Leonard have spoken in the past six weeks, and that Leonard told Muschamp about the incident and his status. I'm going to additionally guess that Muschamp has meant what he said throughout this process — "This behavior will not be tolerated" is not the same as "If you get charged with battery, begone!"; "He still has a lot of things to work through before his status for the fall is addressed" probably means Leonard still has a lot of things to work through before his status for the fall is addressed. So if Leonard's still not cleared to do anything but practice, and he could still have a suspension coming in the fall, I'm going to reserve judgment.
The people who get to airily toss out phrases like "black eye for the Florida program," though? They get to assume the worst, and lump Urban Meyer's decisions in with Muschamp's, and ignore the context of any and all arrests they want to ignore context for, and duck the fact that the people legally responsible for Gators who get charged with/commit/are convicted of crimes are those Gators alone.
That's all good and well for them. But as long as I'm here at Alligator Army, you can count on me never being that lazy.