Running off at the typewriter. …
Huntley Johnson is the 1972 Dolphins of criminal defense attorneys when it comes to erasing potential legal problems for University of Florida athletes. As far as I can tell, the man is unbeaten, untied and unparalleled.
Florida Gators quarterback Treon Harris is the latest example.
Johnson, who has been representing UF athletes for years, once again worked his legal magic this week, and Harris — only a few days after being accused of sexually assaulting a fellow UF student — is already free to play college football again. A day after Johnson put out a press release in which he essentially put the accuser and her alleged sexual promiscuity on trial in the court of public opinion, the accuser withdrew her complaint against Harris.
It was a ruthlessly masterful legal move by Johnson, and one that perhaps is symbolic of why many women may be reticent to go forward with rape allegations. We can only hope the accuser in this case didn't withdraw her complaint because of the public pressure and embarrassment swirling around her.
I wrote when the accusations first surfaced that I thought UF — in the midst of the national public outcry to stop violence against women — should cut ties with Harris and tell him he needs to transfer to another school to play football. As you might expect, I have received tons of criticism for that column.
To be clear, I always maintained that Harris is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, but I still don't think it's unfair in a he-said, she-said situation for a public university in an academic setting to start giving the benefit of the doubt to the allegedly abused woman instead of the allegedly accused football player.
However, in the wake of the accuser withdrawing her complaint against Treon Harris, I can certainly understand why many believe my stance was unfair.
But do you want to know what's really unfair?
According to a recent Orlando Sentinel article, there have been 55 rape allegations at State of Florida public universities in the past two years and absolutely none led to a conviction. That's right, none as in ZERO!
That, my fellow Floridians, is not only unfair, it's downright disgraceful.
Short stuff: And speaking disgraceful, do you know what else is disgraceful? Florida State University — 22 months after the fact — breaking its silence and sending a letter to fans Friday trying to explain away why it totally dropped the ball on the Jameis Winston sexual assault investigation. The Seminoles pretty much blamed the entire ordeal on "media misinformation." Question for FSU leaders (if there are any): If there is so much media misinformation, why don't you have a news conference and let the media ask you some questions? …
What's that? There's actually more going on in sports than sexual assault and domestic abuse investigations? There are actually football games being played this weekend? Well, then, Mikey likes: Florida over LSU by 10 in Will Muschamp Survival Tour-Jeff Driskel Resurrection Tour Upset Special, FSU over Syracuse by 100, East Carolina over USF by 200, UCF over Day Off by 1 in miraculous play in final seconds, Miami over Cincinnati by just 6, Georgia — even without its Gurley man — over Missouri by 5, Mississippi State over Auburn by 3 cowbells, Texas A&M over Ole Miss by 7, Arkansas over Alabama by 2 in Roll (over and play dead) Tide Upset Special, Climpson over Louisville by 10, Oklahoma over Texas by 28, UCLA over Oregon by 3, Jags over Titans by 4 in Bortles Bandwagon Upset Special, Packers over Dolphins by 9, Bucs over Ravens by 4, Seahawks over Cowboys by 1, Johnny Manziel over Todd Gurley by $10,000 worth of illicitly signed memorabilia. …
Hey, did you see where the people who run the Heisman Trophy quietly took the "integrity" out of the award? For the longest time, the opening sentence of the Heisman Trust's Mission Statement read thusly, "The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity." Now, it just says, "best exhibits the pursuit of excellence." It's just as well. We were running out of candidates to vote for anyway. …
Last word: Second-year sensation Victor Oladipo and key free-agent acquisition Channing Frye have sat out the Magic's first two exhibition games because of knee ailments. Somebody needs to tell the Magic there's no need to tank now because preseason games don't actually count on your record!
Don't forget, you can click on OrlandoSentinel.com and read the wildly popular Open Mike blog and interactive extravaganza to get my freshest takes on what's happening in the world of sports. Here's a blog about what one football program does to guard against violence against women:
One of the shames of the controversy that swirled around University of Florida quarterback Treon Harris this week was this: All the work UF coach Will Muschamp has done in cleaning up the image of the crime-ridden program he inherited was lost amid the on-again, off-again sexual assault allegations against Harris.
Criticize Muschamp's win-loss record all you want, but you can't criticize what he's done to rid UF's program of its criminal element. In the last 15 months, he's only had one player arrested and that was for the relatively minor indiscretion of marijuana possession. Of course, when your quarterback gets accused of sexual assault that tends to overshadow all the good that's been done.
That said, let me tell you a story:
I wrote a column on Harris earlier this week and got an email from Dr. Theresa Beachy, Executive Director of the Gainesville Domestic Violence Center (PeacefulPaths.Org). I called her up to get her insight on how college football programs handle abuse issues against women.
I was astounded with her response. Usually, those who work with abused women rightfully tee off on how the powers-that-be in the testosterone-charged world of sports (see Roger Goodell) don't do nearly enough to prevent the national epidemic of violence against women. However, Beachy said Muschamp and UF have actually done a good job, been proactive and worked with the Gainesville Domestic Violence Center in trying to educate players on how to treat women.
"I've been in this job a long time (15 years) and Coach Muschamp has been the only (UF) coach who has allowed us to come in and talk to the players about the importance of healthy relationships," Beachy said. "We have always addressed with every (UF) coaching administration the fact that our services are available ... and frankly none of the other coaches were ever really interested and weren't receptive, Coach Muschamp has had a completely different attitude."
After talking to Beachy, I phoned UF spokesperson Steve McClain, who confirmed that the Gator football program since January has had 10 programs — including guest speakers, educational films, etc. —- dealing with the topic of violence against women. Beachy said that UF's response — immediately suspending Harris while an investigation takes place and the strongly worded zero-tolerance statement from UF president Bernie Machen — made her "proud."
"UF did the right thing from the president on down" Beachy said. "… We've seen other universities not do that and the backlash that has occurred."
Most interesting reader retorts, radio rabble, tangy tweets and message-board mockery:
On my take on Treon Harris/Jameis Winston situations: "Getting tired of your attitude Bianchi! Why don't you drink a big tall glass of Shut Up juice?!!!"
On my column about UCF's chances of getting to a big-boy bowl: "Not until their offensive line starts playing like big boys instead of little girls."
On Georgia's star running back being suspended: "Is Ben Affleck going to play the lead in the new movie – "Gone Gurl(ey)?"
Three of my favorite quotes from the late-night talk shows:
"The No. 1 movie from this weekend, 'Gone Girl,' made $38 million. It's about a wife whose husband tried to make her sit through an 18-inning baseball game." – Jimmy Fallon
"The NFL announced possible sites for next year's draft have been narrowed to two locations. It's either Rikers Island or San Quentin." – Conan O'Brien
email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @BianchiWrites. Listen to his radio show every weekday from 6 to 9 a.m. on 740 AM.