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It Could Have Been You, Florida: Gators Should Take A Cold Hard Look At The Miami Scandal

JC De La Torre advises Gator fans to be careful in their showing their joy at the woes of Miami

Galen Hall and Kerwin Bell have a chat.
Galen Hall and Kerwin Bell have a chat.

There's smiles all around Gainesville, even snickers. Gator fans are twisting the knife even deeper as fans of the disgraced Miami Hurricane program wallow in their misery. Yet, a lesson can be learned from this situation. Perhaps, instead of gloating, Gator fans should stay quiet and pray UF isn't next.

Oh, I'm not referring to Andre Debose and Matt Patchan, whose names came up in the Nevin Shapiro investigation that brought Miami to its knees. I'm not even talking about Aubrey Hill, the Florida receiver coach and recruiting coordinator, who was recruiting coordinator with the Canes when Shapiro was doing his dirty deeds.

No, this is about truth in the big business that is college football. Shapiro said it himself. He may have been the kingpin in Miami, but he had nothing on the SEC.

If you believe the Gators don't have their own Nevin Shapiro, you're naive. You can point to the Florida compliance office all you want - and I'm sure they do the best they can - but the reality is that if you're usually at the top of the recruiting rankings, you're cheating.

Sure, deny it all you want. Believe that Florida's top classes were the result of the hard work of Urban Meyer, his coaches and recruiters. Assume that some of the Gators best players weren't given benefits or money for their letter of intent.

Ignore that Bull Gator in the dark corner, holding wads of money like PacMan Jones at a strip club.

Even Miami's AD Paul Dee flaunted hypocrisy as he delivered USC's sanctions, famously saying, "High-profile players demand high-profile compliance."

As he spoke those words, Shapiro was setting up rendevous for Dee's Hurricane players with high priced hookers, throwing lavish parties, giving monetary gifts and letting them use his yacht.

Still, you don't believe the word of a crook, do you? Shapiro's statements about the SEC are corroborated by the actions within the league. Was it not just a year ago we were talking about the bidding war for Auburn's Cam Newton after he washed out in Gainesville? Somehow, the Tigers swept that under the rug while Cam led them to the National Championship. Don't be so sure we've heard the last of that.

At Tennessee, Lane Kiffin was a walking NCAA vioaltion.

Mark Richt may run one of the cleanest programs in the SEC at Georgia - but he's also coach of a bottom feeding team (not to mention one of his players is also linked to Shapiro).

Ohio State was supposed to be the beacon of college football - the NCAA's poster boy of how to run a clean program right down to the coach who looked more like a Professor with his little sweater vests. Yet even Jim Tressel looked the other way when his star players got special treatment.

Another tent pole university, USC, is already paying for benefits provided to Reggie Bush.

If the ACC - a conference not known for it's football prowess - has schools cheating, do you really believe it's not going on at the highest level of college football?

Many Gator fans like to conveniently forget the darkest chapter in the football program's history - when coach Charley Pell was cited for 107 major NCAA infractions (they could only definitively prove 59) that included the paying of players. Florida suffered through three years of probation. Then, Pell's succesor Galen Hall resigned a couple years later after being caught committing more violations (although his weren't quite as severe as Pell's). The Gators narrowly escaped the death penalty (automatically considered if a school commits major violations twice within a five year period) and instead were again placed on probation.

As recently as 2010, there's been reports of Gator players getting paid by agents, although there's no evidence to suggest Urban Meyer or AD Jeremy Foley had any direct knowledge of the misdeeds. While that's not necessarily the same as a booster paying them money, it shows that Gator players aren't shy about accepting payouts.

There's also the allegations floating out there that the many players in the program who've run afoul with the law have received the benefit of free legal council, paid by the University and a clear major NCAA violation. No evidence has been found to substantiate the rumor, although it is curious that attorney Huntley Johnson has handled most of the cases and gotten his players off with light sentences (typically probation - there's that word again).

The truth is until there's an answer by the NCAA for compensating the players, they're going to continue to take money, benefits and whatever else comes with being an active member of the Orange and Blue.

So laugh and snicker all you want because Miami's dirty laundry is all over the news, my fellow Gator fans. They were stupid enough to get caught.

But just know - our own Shapiro is out there. He would just have to talk and the house of cards would come tumbling down right next to the rotting corpse of the University of Miami.

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.