The Florida Gators made a statement on Saturday afternoon, beating the Toledo Rockets—a team Kirk Herbstreit predicted would beat them on ESPN's College GameDay—by the easy score of 24-6.
After the game, head coach Will Muschamp made a different type of statement to the media—and that one was much more pointed.
According to Adam Silverstein of OnlyGators.com, Muschamp lashed out at local media members who falsely reported that defensive tackle Jay-nard Bostwick had been suspended:
I am going to address something. You know, we had four players that were suspended for today. And we had one player that, you know, very inaccurate information in The Gainesville Sun, the Palm Beach Post and GatorCountry. That was very irresponsible journalism, OK?
You guys can write whatever you want to say about me. You can say I’m a bad football coach. You can say I’m a bad dad, I’m a bad husband, I’m a bad person. You really can say anything you want to say. That’s your opinion. You can talk about our offense, our defense, our special teams. You can talk about our coaching staff, you can talk about our administration. That’s your opinion. And you’re entitled to that, and that’s fair.
But when you take a shot at a kid and it’s inaccurate, and it’s written inaccurately, I got a problem. So I can be accused of a lot of things of being overprotective of our players for accurate information.
I am really pissed off, and it’s wrong.
The report in question started with GatorCountry.com, which first claimed that Bostwick, a freshman defensive tackle, had been suspended. According to Silverstein's story, two other reports soon followed that cited their own sources close to the team.
The other Gators reportedly suspended—cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy, defensive tackle Darious Cummings, receiver Latroy Pittman and offensive lineman Quinteze Williams—were all, in fact, disallowed from playing. But that seems moot, journalistically speaking, when one guy is cited incorrectly.
Bostwick dressed for the game, and though he didn't see the field, he could have, had Florida needed his services. More than that, though, his name was dragged through the mud for supposedly violating rules he appears not to have violated.
The relationship between a coach and the media is always tenuous, especially in college athletics, where the coach also functions as a pseudo-father figure. If there isn't trust and goodwill between the two parties, it often descends into chaos.
How can Muschamp trust his reporters after this epic mix-up?