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

Ga Gator

March 25th, 2010
12:33 pm

Cat Lady are you Mrs. Rip Van Winkle?

Ga Gator

March 25th, 2010
12:35 pm

Brainiac, not small but a typical reporter type; un athletic smarter than you type.

chem

March 25th, 2010
12:35 pm

There’s no reason to answer that question because Richt didn’t do it. This type of over response is par for the course for Urban (because he’s an emotional jerk). For Richt, it would be out of character, so I assume there’d be a different reaction from the Georgia fan base.

Dale

March 25th, 2010
12:35 pm

If it isn’t obvious to everyone that Meyer and Tebow are gay lovers then the nation needs to open their eyes. Mark my words: Meyer and Tebow will be the first major sports figures to come out of the closet and in the public eye.

It is really creepy and pathetic.

I would bet that Meyer will probably accompany Tebow to the draft too.

Just look closer everyone.

ReptilesRule

March 25th, 2010
12:35 pm

Chomp, chomp (arms flapping), chomp, chomp, etc, etc. Oh, I just wet myself!

Charles

March 25th, 2010
12:36 pm

I’m laughing my butt off at all the Gator fans racing to back Meyer…claiming the Sentinal is intimating something. I read the story, and the guy clearly gives Thompson the benefit of the doubt. The Orlando Sentinal sucks up to Meyer and the Gators constantly, and the one time a reporter actually does his job, the fanbase and Meyer can’t handle it. What a bunch of crybabies.

Meyer’s a scumbag bully…great coach…but a selfish prick of a human being.

Jax Dawg

March 25th, 2010
12:37 pm

Come on Gator fans. This article IS about what Urban Meyer said, not what Mark Richt would never stoop down to say.

Ga Gator

March 25th, 2010
12:38 pm

Urban’s butt looks good in shorts …

ReptilesRule

March 25th, 2010
12:39 pm

You should see mine, Ga Gator.

Ga Gator

March 25th, 2010
12:40 pm

Well, I’d like to.

ReptilesRule

March 25th, 2010
12:42 pm

Meet you at Applebees on Tue nite then. I’ll be there with 40 of my fav buddies, in very short jorts.

Bulldog59

March 25th, 2010
12:42 pm

Well said Tony. We Bulldogs have an obviously slanted view, but this is cut and dry. Meyer has to be in the limelight and has to have total control. He can’t stand to have his position or authority challenged. Perhaps Meyer should counsel his players on how to address the media instead of shooting the messenger. His grandstanding had a clear purpose and message to the media, don’t write anything controversial or negative about this program, or you won’t be back. Meyer going directly to his daughter and pointing to the reporter shows his childish and vindictive side.
If the mass changes in player personnel for 2010 bring UF’s win percentage back down to earth, expect many more soundbites during the season. He can only stand the pressure if he’s winning, a perfect example is his body’s reaction after losing the SEC Championship. Too bad, because he really is a great coach; he has to be able to put things in perspective or he won’t survive.

Ga Gator

March 25th, 2010
12:42 pm

Count me in!

termigator

March 25th, 2010
12:43 pm

I’ll be there!

Tdawg

March 25th, 2010
12:43 pm

Oh, now I get it, Urban Myer, Urban Crier. OK.

Matthew Schroeder. Oh no you didn’t. You just put down Thompson on the internet. Maybe Urban should call you out. How old was Myer’s daughter? If she was 18 then he had ever right, if not then he had no right at all.

Dawg in Jax my money would have been on the reporter.

Thompson griped about Tebow before, how dare you tell the gayfor fans the truth. If you hear a knock at the door you might want to take a look out of your peek hole first. It might be Urban. Do the gafur fans a favor though. Give him a head start.

Wonder Dawg, of coarse he would have stood up to Golic, he would have just had a bunch of people standing in between him and Golic. Let’s put it this way,I think that Myer was bright to walk away because I don’t really think that Myer wanted any part of that reporter.

My hats off to some of you gator fans. A few of you actually showed some class on the subject, but alas the majority of you showed nothing but your ignorance and vanity.

blackout_dawg

March 25th, 2010
12:44 pm

UF is still a very talented team. Just had one of the all time recruting class. Just finished a 13-1 season and BCS bowl win. Dude has issues with health after the SEC Championship game and takes a “leave of absence”. Dude is feeling the pressure from delusional UF fans that think college football started when Steve Superior took over. If he cannot handle the pressure, then he needs to get out. What he as accomplished is remarkable and difficult to continue.

Gator Mike

March 25th, 2010
12:47 pm

Ga Gator: I did not say that Urban Meyer is not an egomaniac. He probably is one, but do not know for sure, nor do any of us on the perifery. What I said is that I stand behind him because he is our coach. I am sure that the Orlando Sentinel with Bianchi and Fowler have aggravated you at times. They even go after the good folks at BAMA because they win. Most coaches who win big are egomaniacs and we all know it. As for Spurrier, I understand your position, but he did walk out on UF by his own choice. He would probably be there again, but Machen and Foley wanted to go another direction. When Stoops said “no”, Foley hired Urban Meyer. Meyer is a winner even if he is wound tighter than an 8 day clock. I am sure that the UGA folks would have his back were he the UGA coach with the record he has at UF.
The majority of us Gators will stick by Coach Meyer. Remember, “in all kinds of weather, we will all stick together for FLORIDA”
GO GATORS!

Mia

March 25th, 2010
12:48 pm

Richt would never do anything like this, so there’s no need to answer the question. It would be totally out of character for him. If he did do what Meyer did, he probably wouldn’t have waited to apologize to the Sentinel reporter & the school. He would have been embarrassed.

Mr. Barnhart, well written article. I totally agree with your sentiments. When I got a tweet from Zach Klein over at WSB about this, I knew immediately this had to do with Tebow. People can comment/criticize the man without Meyer & the Gator nation foaming at the mouth. Tebow wouldn’t be trying so hard to change his throwing stance and pocket strategy if he was a conventional NFL QB prospect.

Ga Gator

March 25th, 2010
12:48 pm

There goes the fag Ga Gator imposter. Where you been fariy?

Gator Mike

March 25th, 2010
12:49 pm

Which Applebees? I’ve got some of those short jorts myself!

Ga Gator

March 25th, 2010
12:51 pm

Typical Dawg Fans to ignore a question about their saintly coach. Of course they would run to his rescue and sing his praises. Meyer IS a jerk, but a great coach and if UGA fans were intellectually honest they could admit they wish there coach had Meyers on the field record.

ReptilesRule(the real one)

March 25th, 2010
12:53 pm

Cute, my imposter friend…but no banana. Sorry.

ReptilesRule(the real one)

March 25th, 2010
1:00 pm

I WOULD agree with the statement that Urban has a substancial ego…but what great coach doesn’t?? I wouldn’t exactly call Nick Saban or Pete Carroll as “profiles in humility”. Even Mack Brown of Texas has that quiet swagger to him.

poopdawg

March 25th, 2010
1:01 pm

Ga Gator , fire is one thing but there is no story here until Meyer plugs in. Thompson nor the Sentinel is the story , its Meyer. How is Meyer taking up for Thompson? Thompson didn’t need taken up for, its a haha moment nothing more. Meyer showed his A$$ nothing more.

Tdawg

March 25th, 2010
1:03 pm

ReptilesRule I know what you mean. We dawg fans were wetting ourselves for 50 years. You want to know what a dawg fan would have done if it were Ricth that had done what Myer did. Can only speek for myself but I would have expected Mark to apologize to the reporter and if he had then that would have been that. Over with. I would’nt have been on here backing a classless act like the majority of you gator fans are for sure.

Brainac, actually the reporter look bigger and younger to me. Maybe that’s why ole Urban turned tail an took a hike. He may be crazy but he ain’t stupid.

Lord of the Lizards

March 25th, 2010
1:07 pm

I would almost have to say that after watching the video of Meyer and the reporter several times, I beleive this could well have been calculated and planned by Urban. For one, Deonte’s got to feel good that he has been vindicated by his coach, second, the message to the players and their families is “I got your back” and third it was a powerful message to recruits.

Ga Gator

March 25th, 2010
1:09 pm

Poopdawg, I havent defended Meyer if you go back and read my posts. I just asked a simple question about what would Dawg fans say if it were Richt and I suspect most would first be amazed, then said he showed some fire and finally maybe would have said, coach might have some issues.

ol gator

March 25th, 2010
1:17 pm

I’m a lifelong Gator fan and I think Meyer is a bit of a drama queen. I also know for a fact that the Orlando Slantinel sports section has a history of over-hyping stories like this to stir up controversy.

Because of the timing, Meyer probably thought this could affect Tebow’s draft fortunes, which is wrong – nobody in the NFL is going to pay any mind to this story. It is understandable that he would want to defend his players, but he should have been less emotional.

And Wonder Dawg, maybe you should wait until the Bulldogettes beat Meyer a few times before you call him a sissy.

KJ

March 25th, 2010
1:18 pm

What would Dawg fans say if it were Richt? They wouldn’t say anything, because he would never stoop that low. End of story.

Me

March 25th, 2010
1:20 pm

Hey, it’s good to be “classy” and “Mr Nice guy” and all and want to get along with everyone. To be truthful, that might even describe my own perception of my own persona. But I’m not a football coach and this IS football, not the debate team and people want emotion and passion (within reason, of course). Sometimes I wonder that if Richt doesn’t turn the ship around in a couple of years and someday is gone if many of these same fans will be saying “well, he was a nice guy but just couldn’t beat Florida or he just couldn’t win the big one”. Don’t think this couldn’t happen, especially if Saban and Meyer continue winning and dominating the conference.

Tdawg

March 25th, 2010
1:20 pm

Gay GAtor never pointed anyone out just stated a fact, you do know what a fact is don’t you? I said that most of the gator fans and if you don’t know what most means it means the majority, actully validate what Myer did. Not all , but most. I told you what I would have expected of March Ricth and unlike Flordia fans I would have to believe that the majority of dawg fans would expect no less.

poopdawg

March 25th, 2010
1:21 pm

Lizard , how did Meyer “get your back” for Thompson. It was a non story ,except in Orlando , with Meyers help it is national story and Thompson will still be answering questions about it come August. Meyer did not help Thompson.

bornadawg

March 25th, 2010
1:24 pm

Urban Meyer is a “bad guy”!!!! He lacks values and characater! He is out of control and needs for someone to control him! It should be the responsibility of the President of Florida (not the AD) to step in and make rules regarding accepted behavior that Meyer must follow or give him consequences ranging from game time suspension to being fired. There is no doubt that Meyer runs a winning program. But at what cost? If the Florida President lacks the fortitude to discipline Meyer, then The SEC commisioner should take the reins. Regardles of whether the Florida President or the SEC commisioner gets involved or not, the NCAA should issue ultimatiums regarding accepted media approaches. This story was very wrong to have materialized, and definitely will not go away without some consequences to Meyer!

Cooper71

March 25th, 2010
1:25 pm

The loss to Bama and Saban seems to have unhinged Urban completley.

Our prayers are with you, Coach.

Ga Gator

March 25th, 2010
1:25 pm

Tdawg, why is it U G A Y fans like you like to throw around the term Gaytors? Are you nervous about your own sexuality?

Ga Gator

March 25th, 2010
1:28 pm

bornadawg, you are on drugs if you think this is an NCAA or SEC situation. The UF President is the only one who has a say in this. An unfortunately he was the one who forced the AD to hire him in the first place. The AD’s choice was Spurrier.

termigator

March 25th, 2010
1:29 pm

Ga Gator, the reason U G A Y fans are infatuated with gayness is because Dawgs lick themselves.

Lord of the Lizards

March 25th, 2010
1:35 pm

poopdawg, actually the Thompson statement WAS a national story. Even Jim Rome was vilifying the kid the very next day (Tuesday) on his national radio show. In fact, if it hadn’t become a national story, I doubt that Meyer would have reacted that way with the reporter. But it blew up (as usual) and the school even decided to withold player and coaches interviews on Weds. The Florida program, for better or worse, has become so high profile that you can’t sneeze without ESPN knowing about it anymore. If this had happened at Vandy…crickets…

Ugaclassof2004

March 25th, 2010
1:35 pm

You know Meyer probably didn’t handle that situation very rationally, but I appreciate the fact that he’s sticking up for his kids. Thompson’s comments were taken out of context and I’m sure he regrets saying it. By “real QB” I think he meant having a traditional passing QB. He wasn’t dogging out Tebow, he was just implying that Brantely will be utilized more as a pocket passer which will benefit the WR’s and the passing game in general. But because’s Tebow’s arm strength has been the topic of conversation lately due to him entering the NFL draft, the media pounced on that. The media rarely has to be held accountable, so I have no problem with Meyer telling this reporter that he is no longer welcome at his practices, especially if he is going to make something out of nothing; which is what that story is: much ado about nothing. Lesson learned by Thompson to be sure.

drunk dawg

March 25th, 2010
1:38 pm

Did Meyer have his Jorts on?? He is a baby and has less class than most, regardless! Without Tebow….Gators will be back to norm…bank on it. All you Florida fans…..AJ’s is having a 3 for 1 PBR blowout this weekend!!

termigator

March 25th, 2010
1:39 pm

drunk dawg, do you mean like when Chris Leak was QB or when Zook was the coach?

The Ol hung a half a hundred on the Dawgs in Athens Ball Coach

March 25th, 2010
1:41 pm

Urbie is so mean, he even ran the score up on me in 08.

murfdawg

March 25th, 2010
1:42 pm

First of all, give poor ole Urban a pass. He has a brain tumor. This can cause all sorts of problem with people who disagree with you.

Secondly, his ego has just jumped past SOS and has reached the Richard Nixon level. A paranoid, egomaniac will see everyone against him.

As much as I hate the Gators, this is going to be sad to watch. Anybody remember Charlie Pell?

ga gator

March 25th, 2010
1:42 pm

Ugaclassof2004 you are a very perceptive an intellectually honest young man.

Tdawg

March 25th, 2010
1:44 pm

Ga Gator usually only use that phrase on people who use it on dawg fans. Kinda owe you an apology on that one because I really don’t recall you ever using that phrase on one of us. On my bad you just did, didn’t you? On second thought I don’t owe you an apology after all do I? Man that’s a load off my mind. You dont know how hard it would have been for me to owe an apology to a Gator. But will have to admit that of all the gator posters you are one of the few that I actually respect.

Same old, same old

March 25th, 2010
1:49 pm

Another college football story, another tale without heroes. So far, we have a diva coach, a devious reporter, and the expected defender of the reporter. The only honest character is the ball player. Once, again, the old men make their money and live vicariously by being associated with the hard work and talent of the athlete (who likely would have no other legitimate reason to be attending an institution of higher learning).

ga gator

March 25th, 2010
1:52 pm

Tdawg, thanks Tdawg I attend all home and some away games and usually ignore the comments during your pregame program from fans that dont know Im a gator. It was tough sitting in the Tate Center watching Ole Miss beat us on TV before your Bama game last year and seeing all the fans going crazy. But I understand; I was like that about UGA back when Dooley owned us.

the most interesting man in the world

March 25th, 2010
1:53 pm

Same old, same old, I live vicariously thru myself.

JoePa

March 25th, 2010
1:54 pm

As a graduate of UF’s College of Journalism and a big fan of Coach Meyer, I have to admit that I’m very disappointed with his behavior this week. Coaches and players often say things they regret, but to publicly embarrass and theaten a beat reporter who’s just doing his job goes WAY over the line. Even though Fowler’s column seemed a bit inflammatory, Urban and his players need to develop a thicker skin. We’ve all seen a LOT worse …

Shankit

March 25th, 2010
1:55 pm

Orlando Sentinel is a very liberal newspaper including their Sports journalists,
sort of like the AJC. Naturally, having a local university, Univ. of Central Fla.
competing for recruits, I would suppose the Sentinel would try to drum up
stories, a lot like AJC, to reflect on their across state rival to help the local
school program.