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Thursday Thoughts: On Jon Horford, Florida State's Title IX investigation, Dominique Easley

Catching up with a Thursday edition of what is usually Tuesday Musings...

Andy Lyons

Look: Florida's going to be linked to Michigan forward Jon Horford until he decides on a place to play his final year of college basketball. That's what happens when the brother of one of a program's finest players ever becomes available as a stopgap solution for a team that could use stopgap solutions of his exact dimensions.

The problem with wanting Jon Horford, though, is that he and Al share a last name and similar frames ... and that's almost it.

It's not exaggerating to say that Al Horford was Florida's best player in 2006-07, even with Joakim Noah, the returning Final Four Most Outstanding Player, sharing space in the frontcourt: He made better than 62 percent of his shots, was sixth nationally in defensive rebounding percentage, and was 52nd nationally in Offensive Rating, which is tremendous for a player who never shot threes. He was the No. 3 pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, and rightly so.

Jon Horford is not that good. If he were, he would be in the NBA by now, or would have crafted a role for himself on a Michigan team that had one legitimate post presence (Jordan Morgan) after a season-ending injury removed Mitch McGary from the pool of active players. Instead, he sat while Morgan starred, playing more than 20 minutes just twice from the beginning of Michigan's Big Ten schedule onward.

Horford the Younger probably has a legitimate complaint about being underutilized by John Beilein, but he also didn't do so much in his time on the court that sitting him was criminal. He was a superb rebounder in his limited minutes in 2013-14, sure, pulling down more than a quarter of available defensive boards — an Al-like figure — and more than an eighth of available offensive rebounds. But he was also Michigan's only post player when he was on the floor. Not getting that many boards would have been somewhat surprising; no one else was supposed to get them, in all probabilty.

And he made "just" 57.4 percent on his twos, while Morgan made an incredible 70 percent of them. And he wasn't a great defender. As Michigan's offense became reliant on the spacing that comes from having four wings and one post player on the floor, Morgan became the obvious choice to play the post.

And with McGary, basically a quicker and stronger Jon Horford, likely staying at Michigan, Jon's made the decision to skedaddle in search of playing time.

Florida's offense, much like Michigan's, is dependent on spacing, but it's not nearly as three-happy in its ideal form as Michigan's offense was in 2013-14. (To be fair, neither is Michigan's, in its ideal form.) And Horford, who is graduating from Michigan this spring and is thus eligible immediately as a graduate transfer, would fit into a role behind Chris Walker and Damontre Harris in Florida's frontcourt: He could be what amounts to a taller Will Yeguete for the Gators off the bench, and, if he sublimated any interest in scoring to Florida's team concept, would be a killer reserve for the 2014-15 Gators.

He would also be excellent insurance for Harris, who is rightly subject to the same skepticism about his ability to stay on the straight and narrow with Billy Donovan as Scottie Wilbekin was, and lacks the proximity to a support system like Wilbekin's Gainesville-based family that helped Scottie learn and grow.

I'm just not sure he can be more than that. And I get the feeling he might want to be, given that his role with Michigan was, for all intents and purposes, not that dissimilar to the one I just described.

If Jon Horford ends up in Gainesville, that's good for Florida: He can be a strong role player for the Gators. But I fear that his famous surname is likely to color Gators fans' projections of what he could be, and that wouldn't be fair.


Speaking of fairness: This morning, our friend Jean Shorts Torture sent me a missive on the ongoing investigation into Florida State University in the wake of the investigation into Jameis Winston's alleged rape of an FSU student in December 2012.

Here it is:

As more and more information comes to light about what was done (and not done) by FSU and the Tallahassee Police Department to investigate a sexual assault complaint against Jameis Winston, some in the media and Twitter-verse have been quick to point out that "this sort of thing happens everywhere."

It does not. It may be a widespread problem that needs to be addressed, but it most certainly does not happen "everywhere."

Let me be clear: I am not suggesting that this kind of thing doesn't happen at UF. 1) I have no way of knowing that because our people might just be better at covering their tracks, and 2) let's not make this about a petty rivalry. I just think pointing out the disturbing prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses - specifically in big-time athletic departments - gives FSU and the TPD an undeserved pass for effectively covering up an allegation of a sex crime.

Whether or not this happens everywhere is immaterial, because IT HAPPENED AT FSU. An allegation of sexual assault was, by incompetence or willful ignorance, swept under the rug in Tallahassee. It's not an indictment of the NCAA, college athletics or rape culture. It's an indictment of FSU and/or the TPD. It's those institutions that, to borrow a phrase from one of the now-infamous TPD investigators, deserve to be raked over the coals.

When and if it happens in Gainesville, I hope we would hold up our own officials to the same scrutiny, because deferring scrutiny to the NCAA or "society" doesn't solve anything. Society doesn't have an office with an official in charge who can institute policy change, and neither does the NCAA, really. FSU and the TPD do.

This isn't the NFL, where an all-powerful league office and commissioner can enforce rules and hand down suspensions to bad actors. This is college athletics, where there is no central authority. The NCAA - and the federal government via Title IX - can make rules all day long, but it's up to the individual member schools to self-police and enforce those rules. College athletics is too big to be centrally regulated.

So even if this kind of thing is disturbingly common, let's focus on what has actually transpired and hold accountable the institutions involved. This time that's FSU. Making an example of the Noles may force some introspection at other universities hoping to avoid being next. That includes UF.

I get this point — be specifically outraged about this and hope that effects change, because we know most about this, and about who to complain to — but I want to also note this: In January, The Huffington Post reported that the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, which oversees Title IX investigations, had received complaints alleging Title IX violations at 60 colleges and universities over the last three years. "Nearly two dozen" schools were under investigation at the time of that report.

And that was before the formal investigation into Florida State was reported.

Sexual assault and rape do happen everywhere, which is dismaying enough, but it is also apparent that mishandling of cases of sexual assault and rape — or, at least, mishandling to the degree that complaints are lodged — happen "everywhere." Focusing on Florida State alone does concentrate thoughts and efforts on the single most prominent instance of a case being mishandled in recent memory.

It also, I think, risks missing the forest for the trees.


Dominique Easley did a lot of football things today in The Swamp, for the first time since tearing his ACL in September, and that alone is cause for celebration. Easley's been through more injury woes than any other recent Gator I can think of — Ronald Powell and Matt Rolin just re-tore the same ACL they tore in the first place, while Neiron Ball's injury woes were really more like medical woes — and he's come back better from an injury once, so there's no doubt in my mind that he at least knows how hard it is to get back.

But the best thing about Dominique Easley is that he sounds like the insane murderbear we came to know and love literally all the time:

It's a cold world. Easley knows that well. And he's gonna work as hard as he can to overcome his own personal adversity. The NFL team that drafts him is going to be very pleased with its decision.