Florida Football: Rooting for Chris Rainey Should Be Tough for Gator Fans

Joe MorganSenior Analyst INovember 11, 2010

Chris Rainey has accumulated 377 all-purpose yards since returning from his five-game suspension.
Chris Rainey has accumulated 377 all-purpose yards since returning from his five-game suspension.Marc Serota/Getty Images

The Florida Gators are on fire since the return of suspended running back Chris Rainey. That is no coincidence.

In back-to-back victories, Rainey has made his presence known, scoring two touchdowns, blocking two punts, and racking up 377 all-purpose yards, averaging just over 11 yards per touch.

However, while the Gator Nation certainly welcomes back Rainey the football player, they may not be so keen on seeing the return of Rainey the person.

Rainey was arrested on an aggravated stalking charge Sept. 14. He was immediately suspended by Urban Meyer, who stated that the junior speedster was "not a part of the team."

That quote from Meyer, which was echoed by offensive coordinator Steve Addazio, led many to believe that Florida's head coach finally cracked down in a major way by kicking Rainey off the team.

After all, Rainey was arrest No. 30 for the Gators since 2005. He had violated one of Urban Meyer's core values—respect for women—when he sent his ex-girlfriend a death threat via text message.

But that belief was quelled quickly by Meyer, who stated that Rainey was just suspended indefinitely.

As the case developed, the victim decided not to press charges and claimed that she never felt threatened by Rainey, prompting Florida's head coach to allow him to earn his way back onto the team.

And earn his way back he did, sitting out five games, including three consecutive losses, and meeting a series of goals before Meyer reinstated him just in time for the Georgia game.

Many have speculated that Rainey was brought back quickly due to an injury-ravaged running backs corps and a severe lack of healthy, explosive playmakers for a hapless Gators offense.

However, Florida's coaching staff insists that Rainey made the proper steps to better himself as a person and that he has earned his way back into the locker room.

Those outside of the program are less convinced, so that's why Rainey's recent success is bittersweet for many Gator fans.

Meyer has been a consistent winner throughout his career, but his approach to player discipline has often been questioned.

The two-time national champion coach has a reputation for merely slapping his misbehaving players on the wrist and then throwing them back in the game. But this situation is a whole different animal.

Rainey's misstep was a clear disregard for one of Meyer's core values. By taking a soft stance in this instance, Meyer has created a very slippery slope for his future players.

What do these core values, the supposed foundation of Florida football, mean if Chris Rainey can violate one and still be a member of the football team?

Rainey the football player continues Meyer's proud tradition of putting elite playmakers on the football field, but Rainey the person adds to a parallel legacy of poor discipline at Florida.

And that should be something very tough for Gator fans to root for.

Read the original article on GatorRaid.com.