Meyer wrong–again–in confrontation with reporter

 Today’s column was supposed to be about my visit to Gainesville, Fla., on Monday and Tuesday. The topic was going to be the Florida players discussing how disappointing the 13-1 season of 2009 was because of the constant pressure of trying to maintain the No. 1 preseason ranking. I sat down with three Florida players—Ahmad Black, Mike Pouncey, and John Brantley. To a man they agreed that given the lowered expectations and pressure, the 2010 season was going to be a little more relaxed and more fun. 

 

Little did I know that on Wednesday, the day I left, head coach Urban Meyer would REALLY make things fun.

 

 By now I’m sure you’ve read the story and seen the video of Meyer, who has limited his contact with the press this spring, confronting an Orlando Sentinel reporter at practice. When I was at practice on Monday Meyer did not speak to the press after it was over, which is fine. Other players and coaches were made available. But on Wednesday Meyer walked right up to Jeremy Fowler and objected to a quote that wide receiver Deonte Thompson gave on Monday when he was surrounded by several reporters. The question dealt with how the offense would look with John Brantley instead of Tim Tebow as quarterback. Here is the direct quote and again, Thompson said it in front of a group of reporters who all had their tape recorders going: :

 

 

“Things are going to get better here in the future,” Thompson said. “Any receiver would be happy. You have a guy like (John) Brantley throwing the ball, spreading it around to everybody. … You never know with Tim. You can bolt, you think he’s running but he’ll come up and pass it to you. You just have to be ready at all times. With Brantley, everything’s with rhythm, time. You know what I mean, a real quarterback.”

 

 “A REAL quarterback.”

 

 Obviously, what Thompson meant was that Brantley is a more CONVENTIONAL drop back quarterback than Tebow, which is also obvious. Life for Florida’s receivers is going to be different with John Brantley as quarterback. It will be more conventional. Everybody in the program agrees that is true.

 

 But in today’s 24/7 news cycle quotes like Thompson’s get picked up in the blogosphere and not everyone puts them into context. Thompson was reportedly upset because he has such a high regard for Tim Tebow and the quote made it look like he was ripping perhaps the most honored player in school history. Meyer’s reaction was to defend this player and so he goes after the source in front of everybody and has his Mike Gundy moment. He threatened to ban the entire newspaper from practice and called Fowler “a bad guy.” Meyer even went so far as to suggest that if Thompson were Meyer’s son, he and the reporter might come to a physical confrontation.

 

 Go here to see the video:

 http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/sports_college_uf/2010/03/urban-meyer-uh-passionately-defends-deonte-thompson.html

 

 Enough.

 

 I have defended Urban Meyer and bent over backwards to be fair to the man. And let me say that he has always been good to me, personally. But he is flat wrong here. There was a right way and a wrong way to handle this issue and over the last two years, when the media has been involved, Meyer has been pretty tone deaf. The issue was never the quote by Thompson. The issue was the way others outside the program picked up the quote and used it out of context. That is wrong and it is unfair to the kid.

 

 But when that happens, the smart coach doesn’t go after the reporter who quoted the kid CORRECTLY in an attempt to intimidate the rest. You sit down with all the reporters and explain to them that the kid is upset and, if there is any doubt about the context of the quote, Meyer as the head coach provides it in a calm, rational manner. Then the story goes away. But now this story has gone viral and, like Gundy, Meyer will soon be in the YouTube Hall of Fame. Not smart.

 

 Meyer made the same mistake when linebacker Brandon Spikes got caught with his hand inside the face mask of Georgia running back Waushan Ealey last season. By suspending Spikes for only one half, Meyer took what should have been a one-day story and turned it into a four-day story. After the national uproar, Spikes “volunteered” to sit out a whole game. It never should have happened. Somebody should have told Meyer that a half-game suspension was wrong and Meyer should have listened.

 

 The media is so large now that it can’t be controlled. But it can be MANAGED with a little rational thought. Meyer has made it clear that he believes he does not have to manage media as part of his job. And that is certainly his right. But it’s not very smart, and Urban Meyer is a very smart man.

 

 And on this I feel strongly: For Meyer to personalize this issue is not only unprofessional, it is not in keeping with the standards of behavior that are generally accepted in the Southeastern Conference.

 

 Urban Meyer doesn’t need my advice but, if asked, I would tell him this: Given the drama of last December’s “retirement” and then “un-retirement” then “extended leave of absence” by Meyer, an incident like this will get the chattering class talking yet again about Meyer’s overall stability. Is that fair to him? Probably not. But if you don’t want people taking shots at you, why in the world would you hand them a gun and do it for all the world to see?

 

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327 comments Add your comment

PMC

March 25th, 2010
10:16 am

Far be it from me to suggest that this Meyer fellow… who is supposedly on leave from the program…. might be wound a bit too tight?

SimpleDawg

March 25th, 2010
10:18 am

Ol’ Urban The Terrible scared the $#!+ out of lil’ Jeremy….maybe he should’ve been frightened, Urban seems to be a little unstable emotionally.

Should be an interesting year in the SEC….you have Special Ed Les at LSU and Psycho Urban at Florida. There will be more to follow from both…..the pile will be stirred.

Jax Dawg

March 25th, 2010
10:18 am

I do agree, it looks like the Hawaiian vacation has done a world of good.

charliedawg

March 25th, 2010
10:19 am

I completely agree with Tony with a right way and a wrong way to handle it, but Urban is probably angling a recruting edge, so he can say, “See, I always have your back, no matter what.” I don’t agree with what he did, but who can argue with the results he has delivered.

Urban’s cardiologist may disagree though. Tony, be careful, you are bringing up Urban’s health issues. Pretty soon, he’ll be saying you are a “bad guy” too.

PMC

March 25th, 2010
10:19 am

Honestly everyone knows what Thompson meant with the comments. He wasn’t meaning to take a swipe at Tebow it’s simply with the position that Tebow is in… namely trying to convince someone to pay him millions to distribute the ball as a QB.

Journalist are all looking for stories

March 25th, 2010
10:25 am

He was simply looking for a story. There are 1000 other questions he could have asked, but we all know that nobody cares about what good things people do. Controversy always stirs stories and that keeps you people (media) employed. Meyer was completely correct in this situation. Fowler picked at a guy who’s not used to being friendly to the press and simple didn’t think about his words. The thing I love is how the media is NEVER responsible for things they cause. In this case, Fowler got what he deserved and is now trying to turning himself into a martyr. “I did it in the name of the free press, the news, and the football world. Whaa, I got yelled at!!! I’m the victim. It’s my constitutional right” I for one have absolutely no sympathy for him. He’s a fool for thinking he can do whatever he wants, write what he pleases, and not expect anybody to disagree with him other than in an angry email.

In this case, Fowler was a guest at practice. What a guest? Yes, a guest and it’s clear he’s forgotten that. It is not the Orlando Sentinel/University of Florida football team practice. It is simply the University of Florida. Reporters often forget that they are guests when they go to sporting events and press conferences. Prime example: a reported asked if Tim Tebow was a virgin last year at some event. I forget where, but that was the lowest of trash there.

I hate to have such a negative view of the media in general, because there are such a great number of reporters that actually try to do the right thing. It is truly sad how a few can ruin everything. Fowler got what he wanted out of this, a story and a pat on the back from his editor.

Bobby Knight

March 25th, 2010
10:26 am

Not much of a show by my standards.

mark

March 25th, 2010
10:27 am

You are wrong Tony. The Orlando Sentinal wrote and hyped this story in print, on their web site, blogs, twitter, etc. as Deonte being a disgruntled receiver who was bashing Tim Tebow even though they knew full well that was not the case because they had the full context of what he said.

When a legitimate news outlet (lead by their beat reporter) takes that sort of approach, they deserve to be called out. You may not like the way he did it but as a reporter, if you intentionally distort the facts of a story to create some sort of sensational headline to drive traffic, etc. then you have crossed the line. They are trying to hide behind the “I quoted him correctly” defense. In that case, then just publish the transcripts of all interviews and leave it at that…then you can use that defense. If you are going to actually write a story about what somebody said then you need to do tha in the full context of what was said.

Playing “gotcha” with 20 year old kids and taking a quote or two out of context is the province of TMZ and the tabloids, not the standards of the Southeastern conference that you refer to.

Could Urban have handled it differently? Sure. But Urban came to the defense of one of his players to show him and the team that he has their back….and in case no one has figured it out yet, Urban does not care much what reporters and others outside the team and the program think. He does what he believes is correct and moves on from there.

Miles

March 25th, 2010
10:29 am

Meyer should tell his players to choose their words carefully.

NoGaGator

March 25th, 2010
10:29 am

Woodstrock, Rob and Matthew – agree with what you said.

The Orlando Sentinel story was not the first time that Fowler (and their headline writer) have twisted or taken comments out of perspective. It has been ongoing. Bianchi and Adelson with the Sentinel have also twisted stories in the past but it’s all about the ratings and clicks in these desperate days of declining newspaper circulation.

As well as the above, I believe Meyer was also trying to show Thompson and his other players that he has their back. His method is more old school, the way he was raised, and is not in line with today’s PC/soccer mom/helicopter parents world, but that’s him.

Dan

March 25th, 2010
10:31 am

OMG! How dare Meyer confront a reporter…Gasp! The guy took a quote and tried to sensationalize it and take it out of context, instead of getting a clarification. The reporter is just some guy writing something. There is no reason why a reporter or anyone else can’t be confronted when you disagree with what they do. Reporters say whatever they want on tv and in print and then step back and cry fowl when people challenge them, as if they’re somehow immune to criticism. He wasn’t threatened or harmed. I’d like to see this more often.

RJ

March 25th, 2010
10:31 am

If CMR had done this everyone would be talking about what a great guy he is for standing up for his players. This reporter is constantly going after the Gators program. If Urban gave a million dollars to cancer research people on here would accuse him of doing it only to get attention and win over recruits. Urban Meyer is a class guy and a great coach. Get over the jealousy people. Ever time anyone asks him a question about Lane Kiffen or his leave of absence or anything else he always answers by saying its about the players not the coach. Most of the players on the Gators team refer to him as “Dad.” UGA fans need to just accept he is not a bad guy and move on.

Pahleeeeze

March 25th, 2010
10:40 am

RJ — don’t kid yourself, buddy. Mar Richt would NEVER make a public spectacle like that. Never.

dawgydawg47

March 25th, 2010
10:40 am

Meyer is an a**!

Shelley Meyer

March 25th, 2010
10:41 am

“Urban, honey….Did you go to work again without taking your meds? You know what the doctor said. You have to take them every day or you could inadvertently run off at the mouth and begin threatening people with bodily harm.”

Meyer is an egomaniac

March 25th, 2010
10:46 am

You nailed this one, Tony. I’ve watched you stick up for Meyer in the past and scratched my head. But anyone who watches the video can tell that Meyer is a egomaniacal jerk. You will get criticized for sticking up for a fellow journalist, but I’m glad to see one journalist with the guts to call out a bully like Meyer.

Ga Gator

March 25th, 2010
10:47 am

Tony, several things: I am an over 55 life long Florida Gator

I usually agree with 95% of everything you say; you provide a great service to College Football fans in general and with the SEC in particular.

Rarely do your UGA roots show in your bias and certainly not this time either.

Meyer is an egomaniac, has done a great job returning UF to the standard that Spurrier set in the 90’s.

Newsmedia in general think they are cute or clever in their articles, specifically the way this one was set up by the Sentinel:

Tim Tebow blasphemy? Is UF receiver Deonte Thompson dissing iconic Tim Tebow?

There is a wrong way and a right way to deal with reporters; especially when you are the Head Coach of the Flagship University in one of the most populated states in the country and run a highly successful football program.

And lastly I saw the interview on Gatorsports.com with Thompson and I actually agree with everything he said. He wasnt dissing Tebow, only saying what most receivers would say. I bet even Riley Cooper, Tebows roommate would have agreed. Most Gator fans loved Tebow and also are ready for Johnny Brantley to take over. I for one would of been quite ok with Meyer retiring, quitting or doing whatever when he left. He thinks that HE IS the University of Florida and is quite wrong. They would have been fine without him and I think he showed his a$$ with the reporter.

GoodOleRockyTop

March 25th, 2010
10:47 am

Maybe the SEC fans can witness Urban Liar falling over dead on the sidelines this coming season!

WonderDawg

March 25th, 2010
10:49 am

I wonder if the reporter had been … maybe Mike Golic, would Urban had stood there pointing that finger and acting generally like a bully? I wish the reporter had said, okay, Urban, let’s “go at it,” then.

Journalist are all looking for stories

March 25th, 2010
10:50 am

I love how other non-Florida fan is just calling him simple names and jokes. It shows how diehard SEC fans are. In reality, it just shows how much he cares about his players.

Reporters don’t go after UGA players simply because they’re not as entertaining.

The person people should interviewing is Paul Johnson. Why? B/c he doesn’t care what he says. He knows what he stands for and knows how to get it done. If he fails, he finds ways to improve like a great coach does. Wait… isn’t that how coaches become good? lol – I won’t name specific teams.

Can You Dig It

March 25th, 2010
10:51 am

Urban Meyer is now showing everyone what most insiders already knew….he’s a pompous ass. He takes credit for everything and gives nothing back. Thats why all his coaches bailed out on him once Tebow graduated…they had enough of his self promoting ways. His health problems don’t stem from being over worked..they stem from him discovering how much he was and is disliked by his own staffafter the season ended. He couldn’t handle it. The coaches he has hired to replace the one’s that left are using Meyer and the school as a stepping stone to eventually coach somewhere else…they have absolutely no respect for Meyer…and neither do the other (11) coaches in the SEC….he’s known by the other coaches as a pompous,self serving ass, who consistantly lies to recruits and demeans other coaches in the league while he recruits…..His world is about to cave in on him this year and I can’t wait along with every coach in the SEC and many media folks……Can You Dig It!

MJ

March 25th, 2010
10:52 am

Urban “Cryer” at his best. Talk about low class.

WonderDawg

March 25th, 2010
10:53 am

“Most of the players refer to him as Dad.” So ….. what do they call their dads? That’s kinda creepy, don’t you think?

GatorGuy

March 25th, 2010
10:54 am

As a Gator fan I will say that Urban handled this the wrong way and it makes him look like a jerk. But I don’t think he cares!

Ga Gator

March 25th, 2010
10:54 am

Can you dig it, only one coach left for a job that wasnt a promotion and that was Billy Gonzalez to LSU. Other programs go after his coaches because he hires good assistants. He currently has 5 former assistants in D1 head coaching jobs. Your comments about him being pomous are true however. Wish we had Spurr dog back.

Pago Flyer

March 25th, 2010
10:55 am

Do the DAWGS have to play FL this year!

SeanM

March 25th, 2010
10:57 am

Florida fans, it’s admirable to want to defend the guy “whose side you are on”. I know this, I did it with Vick against everyone. However, pattern of behavior eventually comes clear, and no matter how much justification you do, it gets harder and harder the more the “incidents” pile up.

Refusal to see evidence of Urban’s childish outbursts and sketchy, borderline obsession with anything remotely related to Tebow just means you have officially become Kool-aid drinkers.

Barnacle Bill Bavasi

March 25th, 2010
10:57 am

Just shows he continues to be wound too tight. He’ll probably wind up blowing a gasket again within the next year and be forced out of coaching for serious health problems.

JB

March 25th, 2010
10:58 am

Tony, I am behind you 100%. Meyer is an ego-maniac who has never been able to handle any sort of problems graciously. He is a primadona prick who is not good for college football. Yea he wins, so what? He is not a good person and he is not the type of person you want leading and directing your kids in an important stage of their life. My gut feeling is that if Thompson’s quote wasn’t directed towards Little Timmy T that this would never had been an issue with Meyer. I’m just saying

dog biter

March 25th, 2010
10:59 am

All you UGA punks dont hate us because our coach can take up for his guys. If that was the ajc markie mark would have apologized to the newspaper. I luve them gators ready to cook a dog in JAX again the year you guys suck. Y ou should have came to Fla. A-Murray are were you scared of the gator world class ladies

Jax Dawg

March 25th, 2010
10:59 am

They do if they want to try and win the Eastern division of the SEC, Pago Flyer.

Mad Gator

March 25th, 2010
10:59 am

Urban liar how can you even consider talking that way to a paper that has covered your lying, player abusing, hind end. Tebow carried you for 4 years with grit and class, he may not be a true QB but he is a player which no one denies. You should have stuck with your resignation. It ain’t gettin no better for you or for our Gators. What are you afraid of Urban, your players might tell the truth about you.
Give Urban 4 more years and we will be the doormat of the SEC east. Time for him and Florida to move on. Kinda like Billy Donavan should have, oh did I say that ,BYU.
JMHO

A Johnson Is A Johnson!

March 25th, 2010
11:00 am

LOL….Meyer threatens the guy and then turns around and walks off! There’s a name for guys like that. Good thing it wasn’t Paul Johnson. He would’ve gotten punched in the face!

Alphare

March 25th, 2010
11:00 am

Somehow I feel Meyer is now an active volcano waiting to explode, this is just a small burst. Once his team lose in a way to his dislike in the regular, a full blast will happen. I am not sure the cause, could be his health? unrealistic expectation? SEC pressure? fear of coaching ability finally exposed?

Jax Dawg

March 25th, 2010
11:01 am

Who was Urban Meyer taking up for Tebow or Thompson, dog biter? Tebow is loooooong gone. He might want to concern himself with the players still on the roster.

bruce mac

March 25th, 2010
11:02 am

Much ado about nothing. Good one Ramble On.

dog biter

March 25th, 2010
11:03 am

@JB well alot of parents feel okay with sending thier kids to FLA.They compete for national titles and they get a top education and they have all the wonderful ladies. UF says STFU to UGA

Beekner

March 25th, 2010
11:03 am

This is not high school ball. This is big time college football and fans want all info that is out there. Fowler wrote a good article and even explained what he thought the guy meant. Meyer owes Fowler a public apology. Any time a coach threatens someone with physical harm should be cause for concern from President of the university, the alumni and the SEC. Grown men are not supposed to act like this. If the behavior would not be tolerated at the local ball field, then it never should be tolerated at this level!

Journalist are all looking for stories

March 25th, 2010
11:05 am

Can You Dig It?

Are you serious? That’s why coaches go to the great schools in the first place. TO GET BETTER JOBS AS HEAD COACHES. Please rethink your argument before you start spurting things.

Other SEC coaches do respect him and they’d better not like him. This is the toughest and most competitive conference of all college football. If you do not distill a sense of urgency, then you will lose. If you want to go history, Saban simply screwed the dophins and flat out lied. If you stop respecting the opposition, then that’s when you get lazy and get beaten.

Rocky Topper

March 25th, 2010
11:05 am

I personally don’t blame Urban one bit for taking up for his boyfriend, Teeblow. I’m sure every man on this site would be po’d too and take up for their girlfriends, wives, lovers, …so, why blame Urban?

I say PROTECT THE ONE YOU LOVE Corch!

Doug

March 25th, 2010
11:06 am

Much ado about nothing.

dog biter

March 25th, 2010
11:06 am

Jax Dawg he was taking up for thompson, his current player who will run loose all over UGA in jax once again. So tell your new coordinator Willie M has left him in a very bad situation.

richtfan

March 25th, 2010
11:11 am

Tony,

If the quote was taking out of context, then that can be handled. But, as far as evidence shows, the guy Urban Liar was berating did nothing wrong or incorrect or deceptive. If Meyer doesn’t like what was said, then he needs to go to Thompson and deal with things internally. Meyer is obviously an overreaching and obsessed person and feels the need to control everyone around him. He is a sad person.

Jax Dawg

March 25th, 2010
11:12 am

Well, if he was taking up for Thompson maybe he should express his anger toward Thompson’s choice of wording. Seems like he runs loose on and off the field of play.

bamafan

March 25th, 2010
11:14 am

Looks like Coach Meyer is still stressed out. He is a good coach and from what I can see, the SEC East and maybe the conference championship is Florida’s to lose in 2010. Not sure why he is so touchy……..

Ga Gator

March 25th, 2010
11:15 am

Jax Dawg, dude, why would he express anger towards Thompson if he was taking up for Thompson. I listened to the interview on Gatorsports.com and Thompson said absolutely nothing wrong. Hell I liked Tebow a lot, but if I was a receiver I would be glad Brantley is the QB.

Blue Max

March 25th, 2010
11:17 am

Bet if preacher boy CMR ever had the nads to confront a reporter, the Dawgs would be all over him sayin “glad to see some fire Coach”. Meyer is an egomaniac, but twice the coach as CMR. Get over your jealousy.

chem

March 25th, 2010
11:18 am

No, rob, you’re wrong for saying barnhart’s wrong for saying Meyer’s wrong…

Jax Dawg

March 25th, 2010
11:18 am

Ga Gator, because the real reason Urban Meyer is so put out is there was a perceived slight against Tim Tebow. That is the real issue that brought Urban Meyer’s ire, even you know that.

WonderDawg

March 25th, 2010
11:18 am

Boy, now there are two bad-a$$ coaches on the Dawgs schedule. First there was “punch em right in the face” Paul Johnson. Now, “…we’d be going at it” Urban Myer.

Both of those sissies would probably faint if someone stood up to em…