Monday, 8 July 2013

Urban Meyer’s role in the Hernandez blame game

I Know I said this is a Pac-12 blog and it will be but I wanted to get a little something of my chest before I get started.

It’s not Urban Meyer’s fault that Aaron Hernandez might be pure evil. It’s not Meyer’s fault that Hernandez allegedly killed a man (and maybe more). Urban Meyer isn’t the reason Aaron Hernandez currently faces a first-degree murder charge. But he is one of the reasons.

Meyer finally broke his silence this week in regard to his troubled former player at the University of Florida. Meyer denies that neither he nor Florida is at fault for what has become of Hernandez but of course in light of the modern role of a college football coach, that is impossible. Aaron Hernandez lost his father when he was only 16. He then packed up and left his home in Bristol, Connecticut and arrived at the University of Florida, fatherless and far away from home.

This is where Meyer had to come into the picture and take on the role of Hernandez’s father. I don’t doubt that Meyer tried to help him. When Meyer says "Our staff, myself and our families worked very hard to mentor and guide him" I’m willing to take him at his word. But what Meyer needs to understand is he played a crucial role in Hernandez’s upbringing and in the formulation of his character. As a result, the actions of Hernandez and all of Meyers formers former players at Florida, and at Utah before that, and Ohio State since then, reflect on him and who he is as a leader and molder of young men.

Meyer alleges that the reports of Hernandez failing multiple drug tests and getting them covered up by UF are false. He says that Hernandez and all of his players were held to high standards and were disciplined when the situation called for it. This is where I can’t go along with Meyer.

We know that 31 players were arrested during Meyer’s six year tenure as head Gator. That is a staggering rate of just over five players arrested per season. You can view a comprehensive list of every gator arrested during Meyer’s tenure here. I common thread you might notice when it comes to the punishments of players is that star players like Carlos Dunlap, Janoris Jenkins, and even Cam Newton (Newton was suspended and transferred but Meyer tried to keep him around) received either wind sprints at practice or short term suspensions while depth players and walk-ons like Gary Brown and Jon Demps were given lengthy suspensions or booted from the team entirely for similar crimes.

Remember Brandon Spikes’ eye gouging incident against Georgia in 2009? Spikes was originally suspended for the first half of the Vanderbilt game for his thuggish actions and essentially had to suspend himself for the whole game under the weight of external pressure.

In light of all that I can’t come to any other conclusion than to say that Meyer gave star players star treatment and specifically star discipline. This includes Hernandez who was reportedly involved in a shooting in Gainesville that ended with a man getting shot in the face and a fight that not even his holiness Tim Tebow could break up, ending with Hernandez allegedly punching a man in the ear so hard he burst his ear drum. Meyer’s enabling and his culture of letting the inmates run the asylum didn’t get Odin Loyd killed. But what Meyer needs to understand is that Hernandez’s actions do reflect on him and whether he wants to admit it or not, he has to share some of the blame for what has become of Aaron Hernandez. 

I was once a counselor at a summer camp. A child who was under my leadership got in a fight with another child and I was reprimanded for it. I wasn’t there when the fight took place and there was nothing I could have done to defuse that moment but I still had to take some blame for his actions because I was his father figure for the week and I didn’t do a good enough job teaching him that he can’t go around punching other kids in the face.

Meyer is facing a similar social charge. He can put his hands in the air and pass off the blame all he wants but the bottom line is that he played a role in this. Thanks in part to Meyer’s enabling along with Hernandez’s poor upbringing, his gang background/influences, and whatever evil is in Hernandez’s heart, Odin Loyd is dead, and Meyer can’t run from that.

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