SEC Commissioner Mike Slive made his point Friday when he fined Urban Meyer $30,000 for comments the Florida head coach made about officiating on Wednesday. Was it the right decision or should Slive have suspended Meyer?
Last week Slive brought the hammer down on the coaches after a rash of public criticisms of officiating. He put everybody on notice that there would be no more reprimands. Future public criticisms of officials would be met with fines, suspensions or both. He had the full backing of the league’s coaches and athletics directors.
Let me give you some insight into how the decision was made.
Meyer did violate the letter of the law. On Wednesday’s coaches conference call he was specifically asked about a piece of video he sent to the conference office showing what he believed was a late hit on quarterback Tim Tebow by Georgia’s Nick Williams.
Meyer couched his words but this is what he said: “That should have been a penalty, in my opinion. Obviously, it should have been. You’ve got to protect quarterbacks. That’s the whole purpose. It’s right in front of the referee. I’m not sure how they’re going to handle that, but … that was one of the plays we did send in.”
But the SEC commissioner ultimately decided that Meyer’s comments did not rise to the level of a suspension, given the context. But the fine had to be large enough for the other coaches to understand that they don’t get a free shot.
“As I stated last week, I have great respect for Commissioner Slive and the Southeastern Conference and I respect his decision,” Meyer said in a statement. “There was no intent to criticize an official after being asked about a situation that occurred last Saturday and I apologize for my remarks.”
There ultimately was no reason to suspend Meyer. But a message needed to be sent that Slive intends to enforce the rule. The fine does that. It was the right call.