Florida quarterback Treon Harris was cited Tuesday in Gainesville for operating a vehicle without a valid license, The Gainesville Sun's Robbie Andreu reports.
Florida quarterback Treon Harris is facing a second-degree misdemeanor charge for operating a motor vehicle without a valid license.— Robbie Andreu (@RobbieAndreu) December 19, 2014
That, in and of itself, is not a big deal, even if Harris has never had a driver license: When he gets a license, all-time Gators lawyer Huntley Johnson says, the charge is likely to be dropped. And a surprising number of young people drive without licenses.
But if you want to call Harris's judgment into question, here's the detail that's worth harping on.
According to UPD, two small bags of marijuana were found in the car Treon Harris was driving. He was not charged because the car is not his.— Robbie Andreu (@RobbieAndreu) December 19, 2014
Harris was stopped on Stadium Drive for going 10 mph over the speed limit on Dec. 13 at 11:29 p.m. Smell of marijuana coming from the car.— Robbie Andreu (@RobbieAndreu) December 19, 2014
Neither Harris nor his passengers — fellow Florida freshmen Jalen Tabor and J.C. Jackson — were charged in relation to the marijuana, almost certainly because the car not belonging to any of them gives them plausible deniability. (Loucheiz Purifoy, arrested for marijuana possession in 2013 under similar circumstances, later had that charge dropped.)
Still: Harris, Jackson, and Tabor were all in a car that smelled of weed — wonder why? — and doing 10 miles more than the speed limit on campus at 11:30 p.m. on a Saturday night during exam week. If you wanted to get pulled over and jammed up by Gainesville cops for dumb stuff, you might do it like that.
It's disappointing, because Harris, of all Gators freshmen, should know better than to break the law, and should know that an incident like this, especially coupled with a previous public allegation of rape, will stick with him. Harris knew enough to parallel his allegation of rape with the one Jameis Winston has dealt with for the better part of two years in an early-morning interview with a cop; he didn't know enough to not do this?
The crime committed here is minor, and Harris wouldn't face much more than a fine even if it doesn't get dropped. The weed possession that all three players could've been cited for had the car belonged to any of them isn't particularly troubling, either: Many, many American college students possess, and sometimes smoke, weed. I could get worked up about smoking and riding, but conjecture's the only thing pointing to that.
Mostly, I'm disappointed in the judgment. Harris, Jackson, and Tabor did something dumb, and made news, and now I have to write about it. Not doing the dumb thing, even if it's a relatively benign dumb thing, is usually a good idea when the dumb things you do will make news.
And there are higher expectations for behavior that come with being a Gator athlete than there are for the average Florida student. This is below my bar for tolerance — which, itself, is somewhat lower than most bars, I've learned over time.
We'll see what consequences Harris and his passengers eventually face (though, spoiler alert: A Student Conduct Board investigation for this isn't gonna do much), but I wouldn't mind new Florida coach Jim McElwain making them significant — sitting for some of Florida's bowl game, or, in the redshirting Jackson's case, some of Florida's 2015 season opener — and public.
This is McElwain's chance to set a tone, much like Will Muschamp did by dismissing a churlish, recidivist Janoris Jenkins. There's no good reason to dismiss anyone based on this incident, but effective punishment here could do a lot to dissuade Gators from being dumb in the future.