I've been waiting to see if anything more would shake out about Florida's pursuit of Boise State-to-Baylor transfer Sam Ukwuachu — convicted last week of the sexual assault of a fellow Baylor student — before writing my piece about it, and it turns out that was a good decision. Sort of.
See, while I buy that Thayer Evans and Pete Thamel could get former "Florida athletic department employees" to give quotes about Florida's (and Will Muschamp's) feelings on Ukwuachu as a transfer from Boise State, I'm also very, very leery about trusting Evans and Thamel.
You may recall the duo from their blistering take on how Jeremy Foley conducted his search for Jim McElwain last fall, from Thamel's initial column declaring Muschamp a "bold and risky" hire and from Evans' reporting that Cam Newton faced expulsion from Florida — and immediately being charged with carrying water for Urban Meyer. (You may also recall that Thamel spewed a whole lot of smoke about Nerlens Noel without ever finding fire, or that Thamel has maintained deep access to Meyer when few others have had it, or that Evans's supposedly damning look at Oklahoma State turned out to be so bad that the NCAA kinda snorted at it.)
I buy Florida knowing about Ukwuachu being violent and allegedly abusing a girlfriend at Boise State — but that makes sense to me because of the ties of then-Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease and then-Florida special teams coordinator Jeff Choate to Boise State. Choate, in particular, seems likely to be able to get truth from Boise State officials about Ukwuachu, given that he was part of the defensive staff that got Ukwuachu to commit to the school in June 2010, then serving as the Broncos' linebackers coach and special teams coordinator.
Neither Pease nor Choate was in Boise for Ukwuachu's freshman season, though: Pease left for Florida in December 2011, and Choate spent 2012 at Washington State before being hired by the Gators in the spring of 2013. (Choate left Washington State for UTEP after the 2012 season.) But I seriously doubt that one year away for both coaches would mean neither one could get the full story on Ukwuachu from Chris Petersen — especially given that both coaches are currently on Petersen's staff at Washington after being let go by Muschamp and Florida following the 2013 season.
And, moreover, I buy that a documented history of screwing up at the collegiate level — and an alleged bit of deceit when asked to tell the whole story about his girlfriend that the article alludes to — would dissuade Muschamp and/or Florida from pursuing Ukwuachu diligently. While Florida pursued some character risks as recruits under Muschamp, no player vanished from the Gators' program faster at the first report of trouble than tight end A.C. Leonard, who was charged with domestic battery, immediately suspended, and then let go without ever being reinstated to the program. Florida's athletic department prides itself on running a clean ship; taking Ukwuachu in, with even some private knowledge about his suspension and dismissal from Boise State would run entirely counter to that ethos.
That said, it sure is interesting that Evans and Thamel would share the byline for this report — and that they would quote "two former" Florida athletic department employees. There aren't that many names that could fit those roles, and it would be odd for them to be saying things to Evans and Thamel that paint Florida in a positive light, given both reporters' perceived ties and past reporting.
But maybe painting Florida in a positive light isn't the point.