In a perfect world, Florida could bring junior cornerback Jalen Tabor to SEC Media Days and have it be a completely acceptable choice. Tabor is, after all, a force of nature on the field, and Florida's best player by acclamation and reputation. And he's also one of the more compelling thinkers on the team, willing to say what's on his mind and capable of making those things interesting.
But Florida can't bring a player who was cited for marijuana possession, then suspended for what was reportedly a drug testing policy violation, and then vociferous in his criticism of Florida's University Athletic Association in the wake of that suspension, without risking a lot of concern trolling from
fools pundits who would make his inclusion in the Gators' traveling party a tacit endorsement or whitewashing of Tabor's off-the-field issues.
While Tabor remaining on Florida's roster is, indeed, acceptance of the same, there's a difference between maintaining the privilege to play for the Gators and earning the privilege to speak for them — and while I wouldn't agree with any of the critics of Tabor being brought to Hoover, I would assume that's a headache Florida would rather avoid altogether. And I can accept that being a PR move, even if I wouldn't have minded hearing Tabor speak.
So Jarrad Davis, Marcus Maye, and David Sharpe — all upperclassmen, likely all leaders in both theory and practice, none a bad choice to rep The Florida Brand, and none a tipping of Jim McElwain's hand in regards to the quarterback competition that Luke Del Rio seems to have wrapped up in all but a formal sense — will be the Gators in Hoover on Monday, July 11.
But Tabor will also hold his own Q&A session on Monday, July 11.
In honor of sec media day coming up , I will be answering all questions you fans have shoot them to me on Monday .— Jalen Tabor (@_31Flavorz) July 6, 2016
The absurdity of Tabor using a Twitter account that his own mother once (on that night of blasting the UAA) informed me was not his to hold court aside, him going outside the normal process to be accessible to fans is a really smart idea. Tabor knows that Florida can't really stop him from using Twitter, and doesn't really want to — in fact, the program seems cool with this guerilla Q&A.
Even though he won’t be in Hoover for #SECMD16, Jalen’s ready to answer YOUR questions. https://t.co/ii4doHtmsC— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) July 7, 2016
Tabor doing it on the same day Florida's scheduled media availability in Hoover ensures that he'll steal at least some of the spotlight, which is unfortunate given how it inadvertently slights Davis, Maye, and Sharpe, but fine for Tabor as it would be for any person who welcomes attention and can garner it.
It's not all bad for Davis, Maye, and Sharpe, though. They will get to deal with reporters who can ask them questions about them and their perspectives, rather than having to answer for Tabor. While he will be a distraction on Twitter, he also would have been a bigger one in Hoover.
Furthermore, McElwain has been fond of saying that he's okay with Twitter and other social media because they teach players how to "build their brand." What's more savvy brand-building than cleverly making sure all eyes are on you?
And, to look at this from another angle, what's more likely to make Tabor look and sound good: Reporters and pundits trying to put him on the spot in Hoover, or him self-selecting (or, perhaps, self-selecting with UAA input) questions from Twitter and taking his time to reply?
I'm not sure we're going to learn much from this Q&A with Tabor, who is as bravely outspoken as can be on Twitter as is, and I doubt he says anything so outrageous that it truly reflects poorly on him. But fans will feel like Tabor has made himself accessible and won't fault the UAA for not toting him to Hoover, and reporters and writers will love having two separate sources of content early next week.
If that's not a win-win-win situation, it's close.