Well, that was anticlimactic. Following a weather delay of nearly three hours, the Florida Gators finally kicked off their 2014 season. Actually, the kickoff was all that happened. As the Gators prepared to run their first play from scrimmage, lightning was spotted in the area once again, and eventually, the game was canceled.
This left head coach Will Muschamp in a bit of a quandary. Prior to last Saturday's would-be-opener, Muschamp suspended three of his players for one game due to violation of team rules. To the surprise of many, Muschamp has lifted the ban, so defensive tackles Darious Cummings and Jay-Nard Bostwick, along with wide receiver Demarcus Robinson will be eligible to play when the Gators officially begin their season Saturday afternoon against Eastern Michigan.
Now, considering the fact that it was the head coach's decision to both suspend and reinstate his players, this latest development has many wondering the reasoning behind the ultimate decision to lift the ban. When asked about the situation, Muschamp had this to say, "It's not just about suspending players for games. There's a lot that goes into discipline."
Muschamp, known for his flamboyant personality, has been perceived as a disciplinarian, but some are starting to believe that he's taking it easy on these players, all of whom could make a significant impact on the field this season. To be fair, linebacker Michael Taylor indicated that internal discipline was enforced on the three players.
The University Florida's football team has not exactly had the best reputation of staying out of trouble off the field in recent years, especially during the Urban Meyer era, but the arrival of coach Muschamp in 2011 was supposed to put an end to those sort of issues.
Unfortunately, not much has changed. Muschamp appears to be sitting on a very hot seat regardless. Overall, he owns a 22-16 record over 3 seasons at UF, and he is coming off a horrific 4-8 campaign, easily one of the worst in school history. His job is very much at stake and he knows it. Whether or not that factored into his decision is something we will never know.
Keep in mind, however, that the Eastern Michigan Eagles are far from a powerhouse, and the Gators would most likely take care of business on Saturday with or without the aforementioned suspended players.
Ultimately, it is unfair, at this point, to make a clear-cut judgment on the disciplinary methods of Will Muschamp, in light of the fact that we just do not know exactly what Cummings, Bostwick, and Robinson were guilty of, or what the extent of this "internal discipline" was.
"At the end of the day, I make the decisions in this program, I handle the discipline in the program and it's been handled very well," Muschamp went on to say. Sounds to me like a coach that's aggravated and just wants to move past this. I think it would be wise for the rest of us to just move on as well for the time being.
No matter which way this turns out, it does not look good for the program, and it is certainly not something that Muschamp and company want to have to deal with before his team has even played an entire football game. This is, however, something to keep an eye on as the season wears on.