It's time for Jim McElwain to be done with Antonio Callaway
I get it.
Jim McElwain is trying to give a young man a chance. Well, more like four chances. The Florida coach is facing high expectations to improve an offense with limited weapons. McElwain — and really any coach — also believes that he can change a young man and get him on the right path to the NFL. Those two things work hand in hand.
All of that is understandable. But that doesn’t matter anymore.
It’s time for Antonio Callaway to go.
The Gators announced Sunday that their star wide receiver was one of seven players suspended for the Michigan game for an undisclosed reason. Regardless of what exactly the suspension stems from — McElwain will address it officially at 12:15 p.m. on Monday — it’s clear that Callaway has been given more than enough second chances by Florida.
If McElwain continues to defend Callaway, he’ll be doing it for all the wrong reasons. Whether he wants to admit it or not, it’s time to cut bait on the troubled Gator.
Nobody is saying college athletes are perfect. They’re far from it. We all are.
Seeing McElwain’s quote in the team’s official release regarding the suspension made it seem like this was just a case of college kids making a mistake.
“We have a small group of players that have made some choices that are extremely disappointing,” McElwain said in a statement. “Action has been taken – they have missed some practice and will miss the Michigan game. We will use this as a learning opportunity and we will have some players step up as we move forward.”
This was technically the first time Callaway was suspended for game action at Florida, though he should’ve already been at home for the season opener. After all, he spent all of last offseason suspended as the subject of a sexual assault investigation. Never mind the fact that the hearing officer was a longtime UF booster and a former track athlete as a student.
Does everyone remember what Callaway’s defense was?
“I was so stoned, I had no interested in having sex with anyone,” Callaway stated according to the hearing report.
Ah, there’s the sign of a guy who gets it.
After Callaway was cleared of violating three Florida student code of conduct rules — just in time for the start of the 2016 season — he still couldn’t keep his nose clean.
In May, he was arrested on charges of misdemeanor marijuana possession in Gainesville. OK, that’s not the biggest deal in the world. There will be plenty of college players with marijuana-related suspensions in 2017.
Oh, but Callaway didn’t get suspended for that. It didn’t seem to matter that Callaway was traveling with a 40-year-old criminal who had been arrested for battery, cocaine possession, drug trafficking, grand theft, and lewd and lascivious behavior with a child 12 to 16 years of age.
“There’s another opportunity to learn,” McElwain told 247 Sports. “There’s another opportunity to educate. We’ll get it handled.”
Clearly, Callaway has problems that go well beyond weed if those are the type of people he’s spending his free time with. Apparently Callaway can’t even stay out of trouble when he’s hanging out with teammates, according to this latest incident.
Why is that a guy McElwain wants wearing Florida gear head-to-toe?
Well, that’s obvious. Callaway is Florida’s best playmaker, and it’s not even close. If he’s not on the field, Florida’s uncertain quarterback situation adds another question mark. McElwain’s stuck-in-the-mud offense loses its only four-wheeler that can blow past an opposing defense. He’s also the guy that’s dragging Florida through the mud with negative headline after negative headline.
How much is that worth to McElwain? How can he look a recruit’s parents in the eyes and tell them that he’ll take care of their son and keep him on the straight and narrow if he allows Callaway to walk all over him?
This isn’t a student-athlete that had a bad day or a bad moment. This is a young man who has been given all the opportunity in the world to succeed, and for reasons beyond anyone’s understanding, he doesn’t realize what he’s throwing away. At least not yet.
Antonio Callaway’s situation is all-too-familiar in college football. It’s a shame that McElwain can’t get through to him. By now, that much is obvious.
Maybe things could’ve been different if McElwain had forced Callaway to watch from the sidelines just once before he got in trouble for his third incident (that’s been reported). But that didn’t happen. He meant too much to Florida.
It’s time for McElwain to stop treating Callaway like a kid. If he wasn’t before, Callaway should be out of chances.
And McElwain should be out of excuses.