USF dismisses RB Mike Ford from team
"I am disappointed for Mike more than anything else," Holtz said in a statement. "I hope that he learns some important life lessons from this experience at USF. A lot of people care deeply for him. He needs to realize that he can respond to this adversity in a positive way and still fulfill many of his goals as a person, student and football player. I want the very best for Mike as he moves forward with his life, and I will be here to support him."
Ford's three years at USF were marked by bursts of promise mitigated by off-field problems. He rushed for 207 yards and a touchdown in his last game, USF's win against Northern Illinois in the International Bowl in Toronto, and fans have actively lobbied for him to become an every-down back for the Bulls in 2010.
"To all of my family, friends and fans, I made a mistake that I really, really regret and I apologize for that," Ford said in a statement. "I am responsible for my own actions. Please forgive me for I am only human. This will not be the last of Mike Ford. I will continue my dream, and I will graduate. Thank you to coach Jim Leavitt, coach Skip Holtz and coach Carl Franks. Once again, I apologize and will continue to push forward."
Ford has been suspended twice before, for one game in 2007 for missing classes and for the first two games of 2009 for a violation of team rules. He has also been arrested twice on driving-related infractions, turning himself in to Sarasota police in 2007 after missing a court date for driving without a valid license and registration, then getting arrested on campus in December for driving a moped on campus without a valid license. According to state records, Ford hasn't been arrested since, so his dismissal isn't likely to be prompted by anything from a legal standpoint.
Ford would have been competing for a starting role in 2010, but the Bulls are deep at running back. Starter Mo Plancher is applying for a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA, and USF has six returning scholarship running backs on roster: Jamar Taylor, Lindsey Lamar, Demetris Murray, Richard Kelly, Bradley Battles and Aston Samuels. Three more running backs signed with USF this month and are expected to join the program this fall.
One option for Ford will be the NFL's supplemental draft, which allows NFL teams to use 2011 draft picks on players who came available after the deadline for underclassmen to enter the draft. With only one year of eligibility remaining, he cannot transfer to a Division I-AA program, so his options for transferring would be limited to sitting out a year and playing at a I-A school, or transferring and playing this fall at a Division II or NAIA school.
(photo from Associated Press)