By now everyone knows the story. Brandon Spikes was caught by the CBS cameras attempting to get his fingers into the helmet of Washaun Ealey for an alleged eye-gouging. As expected, many Dawg fans are going insane (myself included earlier) and calling for year-long suspensions or being kicked off team. On the flip side, Gator fans are rationalizing this through some of the comments I’ve seen over at Team Speed Kills and Alligator Army today. It is frankly disappointing because I generally hold Year 2 over at TSK and mimiintampa over at Alligator Army in high regards as rational voices from the Gator nation.
The incident has been rationalized as stuff that happens at the bottom of the pile. That is entirely true. The problem is that Spikes was caught. Coach Meyer has come out and suspended Spikes for the first half of the Gators upcoming game with Vanderbilt and released the following statement:
“I don’t condone that,” Meyer said. “I understand what goes on the football [field], but there’s no place for that. We’re going to suspend Brandon for the first half of the Vanderbilt game. I spoke with him. That’s not who he is. That’s not who we are. He got caught up in emotion.”
To his credit Spikes did release the following statement although for some strange reason I doubt his sincerity:
“I accept responsibility for my actions and I accept the consequences of my actions,” he said. “I would like to apologize to my team and the coaching staff and Washaun Ealey. Football is a very physical and emotional game, but there is no excuse for my actions.”
Spikes’ actions have even been rationalized by the most perfect human being in history, Tim Tebow himself:
“I don’t think that we did anything in that game that they didn’t do,” Tebow said Monday. “If you go back and look at it and study it, you can see it in the film, too. It was an intense game, both teams were very passionate about it.”
The problem is this complete denial from the Florida faithful and players who assume this backlash is part of the hater agenda or that because Ealey wasn’t injured that this doesn’t matter and it’s just a part of football. I don’t doubt that dirty things go on in the pile. I don’t doubt that the Georgia players did things to provoke Spikes. I’ve heard rumors that Ealey spat in his face earlier in the game, which is just reprehensible if true. The bottom line is that Spikes was caught doing something that could have seriously injured another person and he’s basically being slapped on the wrist. I don’t think for a minute that Spikes is a bad person, but a football coach is almost like a parent in that he has to teach his players lessons when they do wrong. By suspending Spikes for one half of a game that he likely wouldn’t have played in the second half is basically sending a message that there is nothing wrong with this type of behavior and it won’t impact your status with this team as long as you’re my best player on defense.
For all the fun that Florida fans have had at the expense of the light disciplinary actions of Bobby Bowden and Mark Richt, how is this any different? I already realize that some Florida fans may read this and laugh at me because I think this, but despite the loss Saturday I’ve never been more proud to not be a Florida Gator today. If this is the type of thing that the leader of my program will condone in the name of wins, then I don’t want that guy leading my program. Incidents like this are just plain embarassing and Urban Meyer has embarassed the Univeristy of Florida with his half-assed punishment. There’s a reason all the national writers are busy skewering him today. I believe that if Rennie Curran had done this to Tim Tebow, the Gator fans’ would be singing a different tune and I know that I would agree with them. This is a big deal and to completely pass it off as “just football” is plain BS and a cop-out.