Like just about everyone else around college football, UF coach Dan Mullen was stunned by the news out of Columbus, Ohio, on Wednesday that Urban Meyer had been placed on paid leave by Ohio State.
The school is looking into whether Meyer lied about saying he did not know assistant coach Zach Smith had allegedly battered his wife in 2015.
“I sent him a text last night just saying he and the family were in our prayers because I know we’ve been very close,” Mullen said. “I’ve just seen a couple of the headlines here and there because we’re getting ready for training camp right now.
“He and the family are very close to my family, so our prayers are with them as they go through all of this.”
While he was the head coach at Florida, Meyer had a policy that if a player struck or battered a female, he would be tossed from the team.
Mullen said his policy is about the same.
“It’s very similar to what it was,” he said. “We believe in all that. Domestic violence is a problem, something that has to be taken very seriously. Not just in today’s world.
“It should always be taken seriously, but I think it’s come more to the forefront in today’s world, become more of a public issue.”
Mullen on guns
In light of receiver Kadarius Toney being found with a loaded AR-15 rifle in the back seat of his car during a traffic stop in July (Gainesville police did not cite Toney because the weapon was not concealed and was not “on or about” him, which would have violated the state’s open-carry law), Mullen was asked if he has a gun policy for his players.
His answer was, well, a little confusing.
“I have a no-weapons policy,” he said. “But it’s not like you’re not allowed to have a gun. We live in a country where that’s one of your rights. A lot of people I know have guns in their house to protect their homes and their family.
“What we do is spend a lot of time with the no-weapons is really to educate them on weapons, on having guns, and why would you have it, what’s the purpose of having it.
“If you’re going to have a gun, make sure you’re properly trained in knowing how to use it. It’s about education.”
So, in reality, is that really a no-weapons policy?
“No, I mean, I’m not — you know, that would be a hard one in the world,” he said.
Several players coming off of serious injuries, including defensive end Cece Jefferson, running back Malik Davis, offensive lineman Brett Heggie and safety Jeawon Taylor, have been cleared for the start of camp, but could be limited.
“We expect, talking to trainers, everyone is going to participate in practice,” Mullen said. “We’ll have some guys that might not still be at 100 percent, have maybe some non-contact jerseys on. But everyone is participating. We don’t have anybody that’s not medically cleared to participate at practice.”
Watkins, Davis gone
Mullen confirmed Justin Watkins, a freshman defensive back, and junior defensive end Keivonnis Davis are no longer on the team. Watkins said last week he was leaving school three days after he was charged with hitting and strangling his girlfriend.
Davis was suspended all of last season for credit card fraud and has had some other legal issues arise since then.
“Both Keivonnis Davis and Justin Watkins are no longer with our program,” Mullen said. “They’ve moved on from our program, so they won’t be with us anymore.”