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Florida Football

Impact Analysis: Five thoughts on the dismissal of Huggins

August 10, 2019
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FLORIDA FOOTBALL & RECRUITING COVERAGE
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As was first reported by the Orlando Sentinel, on Saturday evening Florida head coach Dan Mullen dismissed defensive back John Huggins from the football program.

Huggins had missed all of fall camp while dealing with what Mullen called ‘family issues’ - but it was his actions last season that came to the forefront and made headlines this week. Last fall he was accused of putting his hands around the neck of a female tutor.

According to Mullen, that issue was handled last fall.

Huggins has missed all of preseason camp while dealing with what Florida coach Dan Mullen has called a family issue.

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Here are five thoughts on what all of this means.

1) Huggins was an up-and-coming player. After seeing spot duty in eight games last year as a true freshman, Huggins started to come on over the spring. He was voted as the No. 11 performer by Inside the Gators staff on the post-spring Hot11. There was a very real possibility that he was going to see extensive action in the secondary this coming season - especially if the multi-talented Trey Dean was moved around in the defensive backfield.

2) What were the coaches thinking during the last recruiting cycle? Knowing that Huggins was  already dealing with off-the-field issues, why wasn’t there more of an emphasis on signing coverage capable safeties? After whiffing entirely in the Class of 2019, as of today Florida doesn’t have a freshman or sophomore at the position, setting it up as a huge need now for this cycle.

3) This is Mullen's first real PR hit. The case can be made that Justin Watkins was the first semi-black eye Mullen received while at Florida because Watkins had issues in high school, which - at least in part - caused other programs to back off. That in turn cleared the way for him to sign with Florida. To bring someone in who had displayed violent tendencies toward a female in the past, only to have him do the same while on the team, was an unforced error by Mullen and Company at that time.

Then, what happened with Chris Steele seemed to be a bigger deal at the time because only one side of the story came out, making it look as if the UF staff put Steele in a bad situation and that is why he transferred out. However, the story behind that went a little deeper.

This however is the biggest hit. By dismissing Huggins now, unless he committed some other infraction in the last couple of days, makes it look reactionary. It appears that if this issue had not become public, Mullen was perfectly willing to keep Huggins on the team despite knowing that he allegedly choked a tutor. 

That isn’t a good look from a coach who has seen his program have five different issues with how to properly treat women in just the last year.

4) Florida can ill afford another injury in the secondary. Just since the spring Florida has lost Steele, Huggins, Brian Edwards and C.J. Williams from the defensive backfield. Three of the four would have likely been on the two-deep in the secondary. If Florida can stay healthy, overall this is still one of the top units in the nation, especially at cornerback, but if they suffer another hit, things will start looking a big iffy back there. 

5) It might be time to start shuffling some players around. True freshman Trent Whittemore has had a terrific fall camp at wide receiver, but he was originally recruited as a safety prospect. With the depth that the Gators have at wide out, perhaps he would be better utilized in the secondary. The same could be said for running back Iverson Clement. Sitting fourth on the depth chart, he likely won't see many carries with the game on the line this season. Plus, he actually practiced some with the safeties back in the spring and has the athletic ability to come into his own back there. Finally, there’s Amari Burney. He started out as a safety last season, but then moved to linebacker. He is projected to start there this year, and there isn’t exactly great depth at linebacker as it is, but would he be perhaps the most ready of the three to step in and play if need be?

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Impact Analysis: Five thoughts on the dismissal of Huggins

UFgator52-20
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Ruined his life over something stupid.
SFFLORIDAFAN
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I don't think this is because he chocked that girl. I think this is the family issue thing he hasn't been able to practice for. What happened with him and the volleyball player not what happened last year with the tutor.
Mark Wheeler
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Staff
SFFLORIDAFAN said:

I don't think this is because he chocked that girl. I think this is the family issue thing he hasn't been able to practice for. What happened with him and the volleyball player not what happened last year with the tutor.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that would be an even worse look.

If Mullen kept him around after the incident last fall only to have him commit another act against a female, that would be the worst case scenario for any head coach. Then he would absolutely have to shoulder some of the blame.

Whether or not a player is kept on a college team doesn't require the due process of a court system. A player doesn't need to be arrested or convicted to be told that he would be better off somewhere else. That is the call of the head coach. If Mullen read the police report and then talked to Huggins and determined that he believed what is alleged to have happened actually happened, he could have (and should have) given Huggins the boot then and there.

It would be too big of a coincidence for anything else to have happened or come to a head in the couple of days since Mullen was grilled about Huggins' situation. My best guess would be that either Mullen didn't want to have to deal with further questioning, or the higher-ups in the UAA helped him see the light here.
Jtkeat18
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Best thing for everyone is to move on, quickly. I know Mullen is the right guy and this negative national PR is not the look he deserves but being the head coach at Florida your every move is put under the microscope. I think he definitely took some risk on players he was hoping to foster into better men (he had to close the talent gap). That plan is kinda back firing now but I think we are moving in the right direction.



Dan the Man
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You can't kick off every player every time a allegation is made.

Look at what happened to the Duke players. Look at what happen to that player who just found not guilty at Wisconsin or Minnesota.

You have the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
upstateg8tor
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What irritates me, is why is it always UF? Honest to god, they're doing postmortem biopsies on our program all over social media. We get national attention for barking at dogs, throwing sandwiches and trespassing on auto impound lots. I'm not trying to downplayed this situation ...my daughter is a college student 9 states away and it sometimes keeps me awake at night... So i don't take this lightly. But damn it, it seems like UF is the capital of the world for this kind of crap! I remember reading anonymous interviews of recruits a couple of years back ...and there were comments about how "those girls will get you in trouble" ..."you can't hook up without it turning into fiasco" ...***??? Why is it always here ...regardless of the coach.
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