After a press briefing by Florida and a few other reports zinging through the Interwebs, we now know a little bit more about Will Grier's suspension for the remainder of the season (barring appeal). We also know less than we thought we knew in some cases, but here's where things appear to stand right now.
Grier says it was a mistake
There's a common refrain among those caught using performance-enhancing drugs that it was a mistake of some sort. For now, the quarterback is sticking to that narrative.
Will Grier at the podium now. Very emotional. Says he did not check with the medical staff before taking the supplement.— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) October 12, 2015
No one can definitively rule that out, of course, but going with this story is bound to open Grier up to skepticism, especially from those who aren't inclined to believe him in the first place. It's not unwarranted; anyone who had been on Twitter in the last five years, much less read a sports story of any kind, knows it's a bad idea for athletes to take any supplement that hasn't been approved by your team's medical staff. And it's likely that Florida's coaching staff made sure every player was aware of the dangers.
There's also this that's somewhat unique to Grier:
One thing I'll say: Grier not knowing to be super careful about banned substances, as the son of a high school coach, is a stretch for me.— Alligator Army (@AlligatorArmy) October 12, 2015
Even if Grier took something he didn't know to be a banned substance, he had to know he was taking a major risk by putting anything into his body that hadn't been vetted beforehand. It's a mistake that you might be able to sympathize with, but it's a mistake that Grier knew he was making.
The suspension would last for a year
There were questions shortly after the story broke about whether this was an NCAA test -- which would fall under the most stringent penalties for drug use -- or a Florida test. It was the former, and that brings with it a load of consequences for Grier and the Gators.
Grier's suspension will be for a calendar year. So, if UF does not win the appeal, he won't be back until Oct, 12, 2016.— Robbie Andreu (@RobbieAndreu) October 12, 2015
However, contrary to earlier reports, Grier will not lose an additional year of eligibility. There was some confusion on this point.*
NCAA clarifies rule, says QB Will Grier would return as a redshirt sophomore in 2016, not a junior as many thought— Mark Long (@APMarkLong) October 12, 2015
I am not one of those who is fine with PED use in sports; I think it's cheating and ought to remain cheating. But that's neither here nor there. This is an incredibly draconian policy for a first offense. Yes, college sports have a shorter timeline, and so a three-strikes policy might not be strict enough, but that's no reason to nuke someone the first time, especially without any actual evidence that Grier did this knowingly. Losing half a season or the remainder of the current season (as long as there were at least six games remaining) would seem to be enough of a deterrent.
Two myths have been busted
We will likely never know what substance Grier was actually busted for, given the federal privacy laws that surround this kind of information. But it wasn't what we were all led to believe earlier.
We're told Grier did not test positive for Ligandrol.— Matt Baker (@MBakerTBTimes) October 12, 2015
Also, beware of tall tales about just how much weight Grier added in the year and a half before this season began. It wasn't nothing, but he wasn't growing like the Hulk or anything.
This from @GatorsFB training staff player measurents for Grier: 6-2, 183 in Jan. 2014 when he got here; 6-2, 203 in Aug. 2015.— Scott Carter (@GatorsScott) October 12, 2015
Florida's appealing, because YOLO
The Gators aren't going to just let that strict punishment go, but they're embarking on a quest that seems unlikely to succeed, given the rule book and the fact that they're not going to contest whether Grier used a banned substance.
#Gators are testing a 'B' sample. Appeal is for length of suspension, not mishandling of test.— Graham Hall (@Graham311) October 12, 2015
This isn't a ploy for time; Grier will not be eligible to play while the penalty is appealed. Never underestimate the ingenuity of lawyers, but I wouldn't hold my breath if I were a Florida fan.
It's Treon Harris' team now
Jim McElwain didn't waste much time naming a new starter, and really didn't have any reason to. Meet the new starting quarterback, same as the old starting quarterback.
'Now it's Treon's opportunity to take the reins and run with it. He'll do a great job,' Mac said.— Edgar Thompson (@osgators) October 12, 2015
Some Florida fans have argued that this won't hurt Florida that much, especially given that the quarterbacks had similar numbers and were neck-and-neck in the position battle earlier this year; I hear you. But McElwain seems to have thought Grier gave Florida the best chance to win, or it's likely Grier wouldn't have been taking all the starting snaps over the last few games.
Losing the starting quarterback, however margin the narrow, is generally not going to be good or even indifferent news for your team. That doesn't mean it's something that the Gators can't overcome, but it is likely something they will have to overcome nonetheless.
No, Florida's not vacating any wins (probably)
Added by special request: McElwain said Monday that he was not aware of the drug test until Sunday. If that's true, then the team likely wouldn't vacate wins.
*This story has been updated to reflect new information about the NCAA penalties for Grier.