clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The cases for and against Chad Ochocinco as Florida's wide receivers coach

New, 50 comments

I can't believe this is even fractionally not a joke post.

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Florida does not have a wide receivers coach. That's the only position still unfilled on Jim McElwain's first staff, after a round of hirings on Monday that brought the staff close to completion.

Fortunately for The Twitter Hivemind That Thinks It Knows Better Than Jeremy Foley (#TTHTTIKBTJF), Chad Ochocinco is interested in the position!

This is, if you have a memory longer than the average goldfish Twitter user, not new.

And Ochocinco also visited with the Gators in November 2012, part of a saga that concluded with him asking Twitter for a ride from Butler Plaza to downtown Gainesville ... and then opting to walk up Archer instead. (I don't have those tweets handy, unfortunately, and Twitter's not letting me search for them, but: That happened. Really.)

And, well, there's a legitimate case for Ochocinco as Florida's wide receivers coach.

The case for Ochocinco

Florida's wide receivers have largely been terrible for several years; entering 2014, Riley Cooper was the last Florida wideout to have more than 900 receiving yards in a season ... or 800 ... or 700 ... or 600. And he did that, getting 961 yards on 51 catches, in 2009! Demarcus Robinson did eventually finish with 810 yards in 2014, but Cooper's still the last Florida wide receiver to top 900 yards in a year, and it's been more than a decade since Taylor Jacobs last broke the 1,000-yard barrier in 2002.

Between 2002 and 2009, Ochocinco had seven such seasons in the NFL. It is safe to say that he knows a fair bit about how to play wide receiver.

And, given that Florida's receivers have been coached over the last six years by a guy who left his job via Post-It, two coaches who had to leave their positions because of the shadow of the NCAA, and two glorified graduate assistants, it's safe to say that Ochocinco's qualifications aren't exactly significantly worse than all previous Gators wide receivers coaches.

And, of course, Ochocinco has swag. No hire could be splashier — I mean, maybe hiring Randy Moss would be cooler? — than Florida turning to one of the brashest wide receivers in NFL history to coach up its group. As a Miami native, Ochocinco would assuredly command respect in South Florida, and his massive Twitter following — 3.6 million followers and growing daily — would make him about 25 times as popular as the most popular college head coach on Twitter.

Want to excite a recruit with a DM? Have Chad Ochocinco send one.

On the surface, this would be a really, really exciting hire.

The case against Ochocinco

But, of course, it's not happening.

The most compelling reason it won't happen is that it can't. I can't find any mention of Ochocinco having a college degree (after attending Santa Monica College, where he was teammates with Steve Smith, he transferred to Oregon State, then left after one season for the NFL), and a bachelor's degree is required for coaching football at virtually any level above high school. It would certainly be required by Florida. Unless Ochocinco earns that degree, he's simply not going to eligible for a job coaching college football.

And, beyond that, Ochocinco has a significant and troubling criminal history. He was arrested for domestic battery in August 2012 after headbutting his wife, Evelyn Lozada, who filed for divorce three days later, and was released by the Miami Dolphins on the day of his arrest. But, after pleading no contest to that charge — and receiving a year of probation in an agreement with prosecutors and Lozada — Ochocinco would have a warrant issued for his arrest go to jail for a month in 2013 after minor probation violations, and would spend a month in jail after a judge rescinded a deal to avoid jail time for his probation violation because Ochocinco slapped his attorney on the butt in court.

It is profoundly stupid, of course, that Ochocinco spent time in jail for a (by all accounts) playful spank delivered to his attorney, and not a headbutt delivered to his wife, but both incidents are troubling, and either one in isolation might disqualify him as a candidate at Florida, which prides itself on having high-character coaches.

Case in point: James Willis, currently the defensive coordinator at Louisiana, had been mentioned more than once as a possibility to serve on Will Muschamp's staff at Florida, because of his ties to Muschamp from their shared time at Auburn. But a domestic disturbance call involving Willis in 2010 effectively ended all chatter about him possibly following Muschamp to Gainesville, and Willis later pleaded guilty to charges of domestic abuse and assault (against his wife) stemming from that incident, and was never a serious candidate for a position at Florida again.

And Willis had a personal connection with Muschamp, and a history of being a fairly good collegiate coach. He's back in college football now, because people have stuck their neck out for him, but I don't see Jim McElwain sticking his neck out for Ochocinco, whom he probably doesn't know from Adam.

Furthermore: That lack of experience really does matter. Florida could use a coach who can teach its wide receivers more than a dynamite recruiter, I think, but I'd bet any sum that McElwain would prefer one who doesn't need to be taught the NCAA recruiting rulebook. And there are coaches out there for Florida to hire that would be both good teachers and good recruiters, and don't carry Ochocinco's baggage.

Ochocinco in orange and blue is a fun idea. It makes for a good daydream.

In the real world, though, Chad Ochocinco is empirically not going to be Florida's wide receivers coach, and for a variety of good reasons.