The Florida Gators suspended two more players for their 2017 season opener against Michigan on Wednesday, including leading rusher and predicted reliable rock-toter Jordan Scarlett.
And yet: That wasn’t the only big news Jim McElwain addressed at his Wednesday press conference, scheduled for just after practice and held some 30 minutes later than it was expected to commence, given that he also used to announce Feleipe Franks as Florida’s starting quarterback for the same game.
The important quotes:
McElwain’s opening filibuster on the suspensions:
Obviously, early this afternoon we were made aware of a couple more guys — and obviously one of those guys is Jordan Scarlett — that won’t be going with us this week, and won’t be part of any team activities, as the other guys have not been, until whatever it is is resolved. You know, as you know, look: One thing I’ll never do is look the other way, all right? Try to hide something? The guys on our team understand the responsibility, and, uh — but with that, you know, people think of the distractions and that type of thing, and yet, you know what, it’s an opportunity for more guys to go and play and play their tails off.
Additional quotes on suspensions:
You know, I didn’t expect these. I didn’t expect any more. But at the same time, if there is, it’ll be dealt with. Like I said, some places, y’know, who knows? You might try to figure it out. At the end of the day, the positive is, y’know, we’re gonna handle what it is, and not run and hide. And as I said before, there’s some guys that are gonna step up and play their tails off.
When asked about whether players not initially coming forward would get them in “more trouble” than if they had:
They’re in trouble. I don’t know what more is or less is. What you hope is, you learn from the lesson.
- demurred when asked about directly whether the suspensions were related to a University of Florida Police Department investigation into credit card fraud
- responded to a question about whether this could linger beyond this week by saying “If we’re made aware of anything else, the proper things will happen”
- cast Florida’s response to the situation as “a good thing,” because “we’re not gonna enable,” instead “teaching lessons”
- said “I don’t think there is” any NCAA component to the violations, while also implying he’d invite in NCAA investigators or compliance officials if they sought anything.
- and implied, in response to a question about whether it’s “concerning” that some of the suspended players are repeat offenders, said “it shows you that it’s a small population of guys,” explained that his philosophy is “You don’t throw anyone away,” and decried “taking shortcuts” because “that’s usually where it falls apart”
You know, there are no secrets in this business, as you guys know. I met with the quarterbacks this morning. We’ll start Feliepe. We still have a plan moving forward with everything that we have — boy, there’s a lot of fingers goin’ fast right now — but that was something that, again, we met this morning and practiced that way this afternoon. And we’ll continue moving forward, obviously, with the packages and plan that we have in place, and the others will be ready to go.
That’s something that the guys have done a really good job of, and here’s a good thing: We had some choices, and some real hard choices there. The key’s gonna be how the guys play around the position as well, and on both fronts.
Later, McElwain cited the “full body of work from spring on” as the reason to make Franks the starter, and said “he deserves it.” He also downplayed the effect of the scale of the game on both any decision on Franks and on Franks himself.
And, in closing, when pressed about whether Saturday is “Feleipe’s game,” McElwain retorted with “We have a plan.”
- Safety Quincy Lenton was “full go” for Wednesday’s practice but pulled up at the end of practice, and was the only injury mentioned.
- The four running backs on Florida’s depth chart behind Scarlett — Lamical Perine, Mark Thompson, Malik Davis, and Adarius Lemons — are all candidates to play in his stead. McElwain specifically cited Davis, who has reportedly shined in fall camp, as someone who “will play a ton, as well.”
- The reason Thompson isn’t suspended after an offseason citation for possession? “He’s gone through all the things” — the strong implication here, to me, being that he has both had that citation handled legally and been put through Florida’s policy on drug abuse — “and hasn’t had anything pop up from there.” So there’s that.