NEW ORLEANS -- University of Florida coach Steve Spurrier demoted star tailback Errict Rhett to second string Tuesday because of Rhett's recent penchant for skipping classes.
Rhett still had the opportunity to play in last night's Sugar Bowl against Notre Dame at the Superdome, but it's not certain how much. Spurrier said he would give senior Willie McClendon, a former starter who lost the job partly because of fumbling problems, "a good chance" as the starter. That could mean two offensive series or two quarters.
"I have no idea, really," Spurrier said. "We'll see how Willie is doing."
Rhett, a sophomore from Pembroke Pines, Fla., led the Southeastern Conference this season with 1,109 yards rushing. He has rushed for 100 or more yards in a game six times this season -- including the past four in a row -- and also is Florida's second-leading receiver with 40 catches for 361 yards. He has scored 10 of the team's 13 rushing touchdowns.
"Errict had some unexcused class attendance problems late in the year, and I feel like this is the proper disciplinary measure," Spurrier said.
Sources close to the team said Spurrier intended to drop Rhett to reserve status ever since Spurrier found out about the tailback's absences shortly before Christmas. That was while the team was still in Gainesville. Spurrier waited until the eve of the Sugar Bowl to inform reporters in part to embarrass Rhett publicly, with the idea that Rhett will now think twice about blowing off classes.