Five days ago, former Florida coach Urban Meyer previously had nothing to say about former Gators tight end Aaron Hernandez. Now, with mounting criticism of his program in Gainesville as more negative information about Hernandez emerges, Meyer has broken his silence.
“Prayers and thoughts are with the family and friends of the victim,” Meyer, now the head coach at Ohio State, told Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch via text message. “Relating or blaming these serious charges to the University of Florida, myself or our staff is wrong and irresponsible.”
As it relates to alleged drug use, Meyer is right. But a recent ABC News report raises real questions regarding whether a September 2007 shooting properly was investigated by Gainesville police or the football program. Hernandez, then 17, reportedly declined to be interviewed by police, invoking his right to counsel.
When a 17-year-old invokes the right to counsel while being questioned about a shooting, that’s more than enough for his college football coach to get to the bottom of the situation. If that had happened (and by all appearances it didn’t), perhaps Hernandez would have learned at a young age the connection between his conduct and consequences. Instead, Hernandez (if the current allegations are true) may have developed a sense that things will always work out, no matter what he does.
Meyer didn’t address the unsolved shooting in his text messages to the Dispatch.
“I just received an email from a friend where there is an accusation of multiple failed drug tests by Hernandez covered up by University of Florida or the coaching staff. This is absolutely not true,” Meyer said. “Hernandez was held to the same drug testing policy as every other player. . . .
“He was an athlete at Florida 4-7 yrs ago and there are some comments being made that are not correct. Our staff, myself and our families worked very hard to mentor and guide him.”
The last time someone close to Hernandez complained generally about incorrect reports (his lawyer, Michael Fee), Hernandez was arrested for murder roughly 36 hours later. So until Meyer provides specifics, we’ll assume he’s just saying what he thinks he needs to say in order to wiggle out of an awkward situation.