GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The continued suspension of nine Florida football players has been a recurring topic of interest around the Gators fanbase.
So when McElwain was asked on Thursday during his weekly “Gator Talk” radio show head of No. 24 Florida’s SEC opener against No. 23 Tennessee about other avenues he can take instead of suspensions when punishing players, he took a holistic approach with the crowd to give them perspective.
“There’s a lot of things that they go through and there’s a lot of things that they do educationally as well on top of [suspensions], but one of the things that you find — and you think about this as yourself — the worst thing that could happen to you is to take away something that you really love. You know? When you do that, then it becomes real,” McElwain said. “Then it becomes real. If you think about each one of us in this room, you think about something that really means a lot to you, that you really enjoy doing. If you take that away because of a choice, then all of a sudden you learn a little bit more about that in life than anything else.”
Nine players have been suspended since the preseason. The first batch of seven players — wide receiver Antonio Callaway, freshman linebacker James Houston, freshman offensive lineman Kadeem Telfort, junior defensive end Keivonnis Davis, redshirt freshman defensive lineman Jordan Smith, redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Richerd Desir-Jones and freshman linebacker Ventrell Miller — were announced as suspended on Aug. 13. Running back Jordan Scarlett and wide receiver Rick Wells were added to the list of suspended players on Aug. 30.
UF Police Department Maj. Brad Barber confirmed to SEC Country on Aug. 30 that there was an investigation into allegations of credit card fraud. On Thursday, he said the investigation is still ongoing and that “these types of investigations do take some time to complete.”
Since the investigation is active, there is no official police report yet. Barber is limited about what he is able to say regarding the incident and was not able to provide specific names when asked if it was centered on or limited to the nine players believed to be connected to that matter.
“You think about the opportunities. We have a group of guys now that have actually now lost three opportunities to play in The Swamp [due to cancellations]. That is huge,” McElwain said. “You never know when you’re going to get something back, so take advantage of whatever it is right now and go with it.”
Defensive coordinator Randy Shannon echoed McElwain’s sentiments, saying it’s important to be direct with the players but also making sure not to enable them after they made a mistake.
“If a young man’s not doing the right things that need to be done, you’re not going to play,” Shannon said. “If he’s doing all the right things at practice and off the field, he’ll get a chance to play. I think from this team’s standpoint, which coach Mac has implemented, is ‘Hey. Everybody knows right from wrong. Do what’s right.’ If a young man screws up, he knows right at that particular time that no matter what happened, you just let somebody else control your destiny. Accept the consequences and move on and when you have the opportunity to come back, come back with a brand new attitude, brand new mind and go back and get it going as a Florida Gator.”