Will Muschamp may have an image problem on his hands.
His Florida team has already been embarrassed by cornerback Janoris Jenkins' pair of marijuana-related arrests this offseason, the most recent coming just this past weekend. And now the Palm Bech Post has reported that it's not just Jenkins that's been caught by law enforcement with pot this spring; redshirt freshman defensive end Chris Martin and sophomore reserve linebacker Kedric Johnson were both arrested on possession charges this past January. The details:
The Gainesville Police Department arrested Martin, who is expected to compete for a starting job at defensive end or linebacker this summer, on Jan. 29 after officers detected the scent of the drug coming from a vehicle. Martin was in the car and revealed approximately two grams of cannabis when the police confronted him, the report said.Combined with Jenkins' missteps, that makes four marijuana-related arrests for the Gators in 2011 alone.
Johnson ... was arrested on Jan. 9 after an officer pulled him over for speeding and smelled marijuana. He produced two grams of it from his glove compartment, the police report said.
Both players agreed to deferred prosecution, and the cases did not go to trial.
At a program with a better track record, these incidents might be easily brushed off. But Florida under Urban Meyer became (in)famous for its string of petty (and not-so-petty) arrests, a record Muschamp has promised to change with an emphasis on the "Florida Way."
Though Muschamp will ultimately be judged on wins and losses and virtually nothing else -- for all the griping about the Gators' arrest record under Meyer, his two national championships meant he could have continued in Gainesville almost indefinitely had he not retired -- the "Florida Way" talk will quickly become a punchline if his Gators can't stay out of headlines with "marijuana" in them.
It's early and Muschamp deserves the benefit of the doubt for now -- Martin's and Johnson's arrests occurred within days of his hire -- but it's also a problem the new Gator head honcho will need to nip in the bud* for the sake of his program's already-dicey image.
*Yes, pun intended.