Alan Dell

Commentary | College football kickoffs nice diversions from arrests

The college football season couldn't come any faster for head coaches who have become terrified of police blotters and late-night phone calls.

A significant number of Football Bowl Subdivision players have kept the men in blue very busy the past couple of years.

In 2011, there were 224 NCAA Division I football players arrested out of 528 athletes from all sports in the pro and college level, according to Arrest Nation.

Arrests among football players tend to slow down after the season starts, which is why so many coaches look forward to this week's kickoffs.

Diversion is a valuable asset.

University of Florida athletes led the nation in arrests last year with 13, and seven of the arrested were football players, Arrest Nation reports.

Janoris Jenkins bumped that number up significantly and was dismissed from the team. He played his final season at North Alabama under Terry Bowden, the de-facto reclamation project coordinator for college football. Bowden has since moved on to Akron.

Jenkins was a second-round draft pick of the St. Louis Rams this year and

is expected to start at cornerback. He proved arrests are not much of a deterrent for unacceptable behavior.

Gators head coach Will Muschamp hasn't yet found himself a starting quarterback, but he has learned how to keep most of his players out of the police lineup.

Since January, the Gators have had four arrests, which puts them significantly behind leader Oklahoma State (8) and its head coach Mike Gundy, known for berating reporters that criticize his players.

Muschamp should not be blamed for Florida's brushes with the law. Urban Meyer, who preceded him in Gainesville and won two national championships, was putting up huge player-arrest numbers.

From 2005 through 2010, Florida football had a reported 31 arrests.

Things usually slow down in January when the football season ends because players are apparently too tired and too banged up to generate enough energy to run afoul of the law.

But this year, they bounced back quickly with 33 arrests in April and in 31 in May.

If you are a smart player, you can take advantage of the misdeeds of others and move up the depth chart.

And you don't have to lead a pristine life! Just don't do anything mom and dad warned you about.

Take Manatee grad Mike Blakely. When he transferred to Auburn, the running back situation was more crowded than Grand Central Station at rush hour with heralded Mike Dyer entrenched in the starting tailback spot.

Dyer got suspended after the Tigers' bowl game and left school. Among his reported transgressions: Police ffound a gun in his car that he testified in a subsequent trial was used in a robbery.

Highly touted freshman running back Jovon Robinson started fall camp at Auburn and was released after Memphis City Schools said his transcript was altered. A fudged transcript is probably not an arrestable crime, but it's a major offense in the world NCAA czar Mark Emmert oversees.

So now Blakely is in a four-man battle at running back, and Auburn head coach Gene Chizik said the youngster could improve his chances if he improved his practice habits. If accurate, can we call that a crime against oneself?

Southeast product Brian Poole is drawing raves at Florida and is currently listed as second-team defensive back in the Gators' dime package. He might benefit from the troubles of defensive back De'Ante Saunders, who will sit out Florida's first two games for reasons that are unclear but draw suspicion. He was arrested for marijuana possession last year and suspended for a game.

As we head into the 2012 season, arrests of college football players continue to pile up.

Since the beginning of 2012 through July, there have been 338 reported arrests of athletes on the pro and college level. FBS football (formerly I-A) leads the pack with 167.

It creates a dilemma for parents and recruits.

Do you send your son to a school where he can get on the field quickly, but resembles a Wild West show? Or do you pick a program that doesn't tolerate actions of less-than-honorable intentions?

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7080, ext. 2112.

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