Last month, we announced the triumphant return of the Florida State football program to the summit of the sports-crime world. The once-feared criminal enterprise, which for years doubled as a perennially contending ACC powerhouse, had roared back into the spotlight with a remarkable run of incidents involving the team's wide-receiver corps — the most prominent featuring Richard Goodman, who broke a woman's face with a thrown chair in a bar fight. There is a reason they play these guys at receiver: catching, not throwing, is their strong suit.
Now FSU is back in the news again, and because there are no more wide receivers left to get arrested, it was a linebacker who made the fuss. Maurice Harris, a 20-year-old sophomore reserve, committed one of the dumber (even by college-football standards) crimes of the year when he stole a police boot off his motorcycle and tried to get away with it. It seems police in Tallahassee had found his gray-and-blue bike on campus, and, noting that there were $285 in outstanding parking tickets attached to the ride, had slapped a parking boot on it. When they returned later, the motorcycle and the boot were gone.
The next day, the same blue-and-gray motorcycle re-appeared on campus, only this time the VIN number had been crudely scratched off and a paper tag had been affixed to the spot where the old tag had been.
Here's where it gets really unfortunate for Harris. The cutoff point for felony larceny in Florida is $300. Guess how much the boot was worth? That's right, $300. So police hit Harris with a number of charges, including felony grand theft and possession of a motor vehicle with altered identification.
When Harris got picked up, he denied having any knowledge about a parking boot and cut off the interrogation quickly. The arresting officer noted that Harris "did not want to continue the interview about the missing parking boot."
Despite the fact that they're running out of players, the 'Noles went ahead and suspended Harris indefinitely, meaning it could be a banner year in Tallahassee— for walk-ons. Give Harris 30 points for stealing his own motorcycle, plus three more for the boneheaded cover-up.
It was a bad week for Florida football players, and not just those from Florida State. Jamaal Berry was a big-time high-school running back at Miami Palmetto High School, set to play for Ohio State in the fall. He was good enough that he was expected to actually compete for playing time as a freshman with the Buckeyes, and he still might.
Complicating that plan, however, is an arrest he racked up in his hometown on June 11, when he was picked up for possession of marijuana. (There was about an ounce of weed in the bag, so let's hope he had plenty of chips with him as well.) Police charged him with third-degree felony possession, and presumably did not let him actually smoke the baggie, which is kind of sad.
Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, who's taken some hits in recent years for recruiting knuckleheads, did not comment immediately. Give Berry four points for possession, and let's hope they don't bounce this kid's scholarship.
And there's more . . .
While we're on the Florida football theme, here's a really weird story. A few weeks ago, police in Illinois arrested a man by the name of Vontae Davis. The student newspaper at the University of Illinois reported that this was the same Vontae Davis who had been a star cornerback at the school, and who had been drafted by the Miami Dolphins this past spring.
Only one problem: the real Vontae Davis was apparently working out with the Dolphins in Miami at the time of the arrest. Seems right now like it's a case of identity theft. "When I heard about it, it hit me," says Davis. "I was like, 'Oh, God.' "
Matt Taibbi can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.