Sports

Joseph Goodman: Scooter leaves skid marks on UF’s season

From now on, all incoming freshmen on the University of Florida football team should be required to take a course in scooter safety. Either that, or maybe UF athletic director Jeremy Foley should think about banning the use of scooters for everyone attending the university on an athletics scholarship.

I know Will Muschamp would support that idea.

Every other year or so, the scooter culture at the University of Florida causes major problems for the Gators, and this latest accident could seal the fate of the football team for the remainder of the season. On Tuesday, UF offensive tackle Tyler Moore wrecked his scooter and broke his arm while driving on a wet sidewalk in Gainesville. Moore, who had surgery Wednesday, is the sixth starter to go down with a season-ending injury.

Beset by injuries, the offensive line already was one of the worst in the Southeastern Conference. UF is ranked 110th in total offense (334.6 yards per game) entering Saturday’s homecoming game against Vanderbilt, and only Vandy has given up more sacks (26) in the SEC than the Gators (21).

Just about everyone on UF’s football and basketball teams gets around campus on scooters. According to people familiar with UF athletics, athletes use part of their housing allowances to pay for the scooters, which means, basically, UF is investing money in athletes and then paying those athletes to jeopardize their collegiate careers on the roads … and sidewalks.

Yes, riding a scooter on the sidewalk at the University of Florida is a traffic violation. And, of course, no one is wearing helmets in Gainesville. A disaster waiting to happen is a 320-pound lineman cruising around town on a flimsy scooter. Moore is lucky he only broke his arm.

STABILITY NEEDED

With four games remaining in the season, including two against South Carolina and Florida State, the Gators (4-4) are in serious jeopardy of missing out on the postseason for the first time since 1990. UF is under pressure to defeat Vanderbilt just to gain bowl eligibility. The Commodores last upset the Gators in 1982.

With a potential loss to Vanderbilt as a backdrop, many Gators fans are already calling for Foley to fire Muschamp. This would be a mistake. Foley fired Ron Zook in 2004 after a rare loss to Mississippi State, but the circumstances between that Zook-led team and Muschamp’s Gators this season are significantly different.

Zook’s teams grossly underperformed whereas Muschamp’s 2013 unit has been decimated by injuries. I wrote earlier this season that things were going to get worse for Muschamp and UF before they got better, and that’s exactly what has happened. Now is not the time to overreact and set the program back several seasons, especially with Florida State and Miami (and even Central Florida) on the upswing.

In 2012, Muschamp turned in one of the best coaching performances in the country. He’s still the same young and upcoming coach today that he was last season.

DRISKEL HEALING

UF did receive one bit of good news this week. Junior quarterback Jeff Driskel, who broke the fibula in his right leg against Tennessee, had the cast removed from his lower leg and is expected to fully recover in time for 2014 spring practice.

Driskel played less than 30 percent of the season, so he is eligible for a medical hardship waiver. If granted the waiver in December, Driskel would have two more years of eligibility remaining.

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