After weeks of waiting, predictions for and against, and much debate, Marcus Thomas has been reinstated and cleared to play against LSU. An independent university committee made the decision, and then both Jeremy Foley and Bernie Machen agreed. Note that Urban Meyer was not part of any of the decision-making process except at the very end when he agreed with the independent committee, the athletic director, and the university president. When I say “independent,” I don’t mean outside the university, since it’s UF personnel on it, but independent of the University Athletic Association, coaches, players, and athletic director. It wasn’t the sports department making the decisions.
Now, just because he’s cleared, it doesn’t mean he’ll play. I doubt he will for any significant amount of time. He’s missed several weeks of practice and likely is not in game shape. Plus, the team has been preparing all week without him, and it’s hard to rearrange everyone on the defensive line the day before a game. Urban says that Thomas “still has some work ahead of him,” which could mean anything in the vague dialect of Meyer-ese.
“I think he’s a very good football player,” Meyer said. “He’s a good chemistry guy on the team. He’s invested a lot into this program. Obviously, having him in here is going to help, but we also played pretty good without him. It’s important. Is it the catchall? Absolutely not. We proved that the last couple weeks.”
Despite mixing up adverbs for adjectives, Coach Meyer is spot on here. They did play well without him the past two games. They did not, however, play as well as when they had him. That makes sense, given how good he is. I doubt he’ll make much of an impact against LSU since the running backs in purple and yellow have been ineffective all year anyway. He’d be needed to get after JaMarcus Russell, but even with as slow as Russell is, I don’t know that an out-of-shape Marcus Thomas would make that much of an impact. It’s looking a lot better for Florida for the Auburn game though.
In the end, I hope this was a real decision to end his suspension, and not a technicality or a football-driven decision. Obviously, they think that there’s not enough proof to say that the second drug test was not a false positive from something left in his system from the first one. Still, I hope this can get Marcus Thomas the person back on the right track, regardless of what Marcus Thomas the football player does.
I hope that part of this is testing him regularly. As President Reagan used to say, “Trust, but verify.” Marcus Thomas is a leader on the team, and he needs to be sending good messages, not serving as a warning to his teammates. I do not hold any pretense of thinking that I know what goes on inside the football program. What I do know is that as long as this decision ends up passing the smell test, then it’s a good sign for Marcus and a good sign for the team.
In other good news, FSU lost at NC State, the site of a game this year that involved Akron winning over the home team. It’s amazing how much that program has fallen. You know, it’s completely unsurprising that certain people who decided Drew Weatherford was best quarterback in the state (whose names may or may not rhyme with “Furbstreet”) have not acknowledged the error. There were a lot of people (whose names definitely do not rhyme with “Furbstreet”) who had Weatherford as a potential Heisman candidate. Those people are silent too. We’ll have to see what the weekend’s coverage has to say before making final judgements, but there’s no way FSU is still ranked after this weekend. That would make both FSU and Miami unranked. How sweet indeed.