The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.

NOVEMBER    2006

                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.







A brawl in the Fall

By Jerry Keys

I'm not exactly a huge college football fan but I must admit; the Miami Hurricane-Florida International game was "must-see TV".  In the last five years, the college football gridiron seems to offer up an increasing number of "spats".  It also appears that the Hurricanes seem to be in the middle of a few of these.

Miami won the game quite handily, 35-0, but drew harsh criticism from the major media outlets for continuing to take a blind eye with their out-of-control football program.  Former coach Butch Davis was credited with cleaning up the scandal ridden football program in the late 1990's, following the turmoil left by exiting coach Dennis Erickson (1989-94).  After Davis left in 2000 to coach in the NFL, Miami hired Larry Coker.  Many college pigskin pundits have placed the blame on Coker for letting the program slip back into turmoil after

Jerry Keys

Davis left.

The melee started after Miami scored their second touchdown and Hurricane receiver (and TD recipient) James Bryant appeared to point over to the FIU bench before taking a theatrical bow to the stands. On the PAT (point after touchdown), "FIU's Chris Smith wrestled Miami holder Matt Perrelli to the ground and punched him. While Perrelli was still on the ground, FIU's Marshall McDuffie, Jr. kicked Perrelli in his helmet. Miami's Derrick Morse jumped on top of McDuffie, and the benches emptied." Pushing and shoving ensued and the five-minute fiasco was on.  Over two-dozen uniformed police stepped in to curb the violence.

The zenith of the ruckus was when a Miami

player took off his helmet and used it as a weapon, a FIU player who was on crutches entered the fray and used the crutches as a weapon, and a Miami player (Carlos Armour) picking up a FIU opponent off of the ground and slamming him to the grass.   

Thirteen players (8 from FIU and 5 from

Miami) were ejected from the game and numerous one-game suspensions were issued.  Former Hurricane player and current radio broadcaster, Lamar Thomas, was lambasted for his act of encouraging Hurricane players to fight.  Thomas was immediately fired.

Many speculate there was bad blood just waiting to surface from the two colleges, less than ten miles apart.  Most local football players wind up attending FIU, while Miami recruits nationwide.  What could have been a major factor in the sideline clearing brawl is most FIU players carry a "chip on their shoulder" due to the fact that they were not recruited by the locally based and nationally known Hurricanes. 

One could wager a fairly large amount of cash to say the fact was a motivational tool used by the FIU brass.  To relate this to local comparison, picture FIU as the UTC Mocs and Miami as the UT Vols.  Both schools have proud traditions but if they were to play at Neyland…the Vols would be roughly

a 30-40 point favorite.

Miami brass tried to play down the aftershock of the incident and clearly wanted to sweep it under the rug as soon as possible.  Whether or not at press time has all the punishments been handed down, I am not completely certain of.  But I can clearly see they will not be harsh enough.

How about if Miami took the lead (as Lou Holtz did a few years ago at South Carolina) and

take the school out of a bowl bid?  Nah, the school would lose millions of dollars; Heaven forbid a school chose integrity over the almighty dollar.  How about forfeiting the game?  Nah, they wouldn't get a BCS bowl bid.  Okay, how about suspending the main participants in the brawl for the rest of the

year?  Not a chance, how could they get a BCS bowl berth without their key players?

I guess that definitely rules out yanking a few players' scholarships.  But worry not, if the heat gets too hot for top brass in Miami, they will simply blame everything on Coker and give him the ax.  I must admit that would be a great move but it should have already been done.  What's the chance of Joe P's Penn State team pulling a stunt like this?  Or Bob Stoop's?  Or Phil Fulmer's?  And if it did happen under their watch, I would not be the least bit surprised if they offered to step down due to the outlandish behavior of their players.

This was not as bad as the 2004 "Malice in the Palace" between the Detroit Pistons and the Indiana Pacers but probably will land in the top five lists of the most embarrassing moments in college football history.

Whether they like it or not, college players and pro players alike, are considered to be role models for America's youth.  I know many claim they should not be forced to carry that burden but when you garnish fame, hero worship comes along with it.  But don't feel too bad, it is just temporary, kinda like me…I was once guilty of hero worship as a youth.  Then I grew up and realized most are not the heroes they claimed to be.