On Friday, I wrote an article detailing what I knew about the situation regarding Chris Steele’s decision to transfer. I stand by every single word of it, from the fact that the staff that Dan Mullen is the CEO of acted in a less than perfect manner to the fact that Steele and his family wanted a change of scenery for Chris after being named in a police report and having his request go unheeded. Nothing that has happened since the publication of that article will change the validity of those facts.
But it appears now as though all of that comprises 90% of the story surrounding his departure, as opposed to 100%. This is not a retraction, but an addition of several pieces of information that must be included.
Last night, several Florida players sent out a string of tweets that taught the world precisely what they thought of Steele.
Yes, in case you were unclear, that is Chris Steele on defense in each of those photos from Florida practices. And those are Florida receivers Trevon Grimes, Kyle Pitts and Rick Wells posting those pictures in public to indicate their less than cordial relationships with Steele. In response, Steele took it upon himself to start tweeting out practice footage of himself at Florida, to which a fourth Florida receiver, Tyrie Cleveland, went rep for rep with him, quote tweeting each video Steele put in his thread with sarcastic applause emojis. Even Steele’s ex-roommate, Jaydon Hill, expressed his dismay with Steele, writing, “You’re going against the grain now.”
And though some of the players have deleted their tweets, the sentiment isn’t going to be deleted from memory, and it teaches us all the valuable lesson that multiple things, even when they seem to conflict each other, can be true at the same time.
Case in point: Chris Steele wanted to transfer out of UF because he was irritated at how the school botched his request and ignored a fear of his that turned out to be completely legitimate. At the same time, it’s become clear as day that Steele does not get along well with some of his teammates; whether this feud began before or after Steele’s situation came to light is irrelevant, as what matters is that it exists now, and more importantly, would continue to going forward, so to place these guys in the same locker room at a subsequent point in time could very well be interpreted as asking for trouble. This clash between Steele and his teammates is not in itself a legitimate reason to transfer, and it definitely was not why he wanted to transfer initially as Steele’s room swap request almost certainly predated the source of contempt that any of these guys seem to have for him. But when thrown on top of his initial reason, it makes him that much more certain of his initial decision. In other words, Steele absolutely is not transferring because he clashes with his teammates; said clash with teammates only confirmed his inherent feeling.
Case in point number two: someone on Florida’s staff, i.e. not Mullen but someone on the staff that Dan Mullen is the CEO of screwed up here. It wasn’t a screwup of malice, and thus it was not a screwup that’s as bad as it once looked- I’ll take that- but it was a screwup nonetheless. And it was a screwup that Mullen dropped everything to fly across the continent with his wife Megan to attempt to fix, meaning that Mullen is a good hearted man who always wants to do the right thing. It doesn’t change the fact that someone on Mullen’s staff messed up, but the lengths to which Mullen has demonstrated to be willing to go to fix an honest mistake one of his employees made speaks volumes about him, significantly more so than the mistake said employee made to begin with.
There are a few other pieces of information that need to be accounted for, too, such as tweets between Steele and Jalon Jones that went back and forth two months after Steele made his request to switch rooms, which I would guess is Steele second-guessing his initial (read: correct) assessment of Jones as someone who would get him into trouble and trying to build some trust with him. And then there was a tweet from Steele’s dad that was sent a week after Jones was accused of sexual battery, which feels like him trying to assuage the doubts that were building before Chris had made a definite decision.
At this point, though, the situation is pretty much dead, and there may never be concrete answers to them that can satisfy us. Or there might be. However, none of those “receipts,” as they’ve been called by some conspiracy theorists, do anything to take away from the main reason why Steele left; all they do is contribute to the perfect storm, and add supplemental reasons for Steele to want out on top of the main one. Furthermore, if Chris Steele decides to come back to Florida for some reason (and I’m pretty sure he will not) then so be it, but the far more important takeaway from this saga is the fact that nobody is perfect, and that Mullen will do more than most to correct a mistake stemming from an imperfection.
And that is why I remain more proud than ever of the fact that Mullen is my team’s coach.