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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www.twitter.com/MrCFB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

327 comments Add your comment

ga gator

March 25th, 2010
1:58 pm

Meyer was wrong in the way he handled it. He is an egomaniac, but most fans of most high profile schools either have a coach like him or hate to admit they wish they did.

MEDIA WRONG

March 25th, 2010
2:01 pm

Quotes were taken out of context by Fowler. Bianchi’s follow up article was horrendous- had a title of something about Thompson bashing Tebow? Bianchi is always trying to create controversy. Fowler was very irresponsible for not including all of the player’s quotes. The media will listen more if Meyer publicly tells them what he thinks. Hopefully Fowler will lose his job over this. Deonte Thompson has felt horrible over the Fowler’s handling of this. Doesn’t that mean anything to you Tony? Meyer is simply defending his own player.

Same old, same old

March 25th, 2010
2:01 pm

Good for you, “interesting man”. We need more people who make the action, and fewer people who watch the action!

Clark G

March 25th, 2010
2:02 pm

Serious as a heart-attack…

Tdawg

March 25th, 2010
2:05 pm

ga gator pretty sure that if you were to do a little research you’d most likely find that it was the gator fans that started the whole gay thing. Personally I don’t have an opinion on that topic one way or the other. That’s between them and their maker. Not sure if it is possible to find out who started the whole thing but the first time I read it was in reference to the dawgs. As far as this mess with Myer goes, he was wrong and he knows it and so do his backers. It’s one thing to back your coach and quite another when fans glorify him when he does something stupid and what he did was stupid.

Tdawg

March 25th, 2010
2:07 pm

on second thought it may have been teck or vol or bama fans who started it.

ga gator

March 25th, 2010
2:10 pm

Tdawg, all is forgiven, but I have to admit the whole jorts thing is kinda funny.

LOL

March 25th, 2010
2:13 pm

“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.”

No, when Paul Johnson fails, he makes up excuses such as ‘we have more important goals, that game was not important to us’. Great coaches win bowl games, remind again how Paul ‘the great’ Johnson does in bowl games?

Urbaneosauros

March 25th, 2010
2:15 pm

Tebow is Gawd in Florida, to question Tebow is to question baby Jesus himself, that being said, Meyer looks like a puke, he needs to man-up and wear some coaches shorts or jean shorts to honor his fans….

Shankit

March 25th, 2010
2:21 pm

Meyer and Thompson news is getting old.
I’m going back to more exciting news between
egos, Obama and Glen Beck; Sarah and Biden, etc.
Same plots, just different casts.

LOL

March 25th, 2010
2:30 pm

dog biter, is your writing indicative of that fine UF education? For UF’s sake, I sure as hell hope not!

“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”

SOUTHGADAWG88

March 25th, 2010
2:33 pm

You think Meyer is on edge now…wait until he loses a couple of games and he’s going to have a total meltdown on live TV.Book it

WonderDawg

March 25th, 2010
2:38 pm

Lord of the Lizards, your 1:07 post sounds like a Vol fan last year theorizing about a Lane Kiffin stunt.

I’ve admired Urban and wished our guy had his coaching talent, but dang, the last 3 months he sure has acted a bit unstable.

Ron Zook

March 25th, 2010
2:39 pm

SOUTHGADAWG88, you lost even to me so the beatdowns will continue. Book it Dano.

LOL

March 25th, 2010
2:41 pm

It is kind of late to reply, but I will answer you GA Gator. I would be ashamed if Mark Richt responded to a reporter like that. Given Richt’s history, I would also feel that he had finally folded under the pressure and completely lost his marbles. I would not be excited, I would not bark about it, or any other BS you think UGA fans might do.

Now, the better question for you Gator fans is, how do you think Tim Tebow feels about Meyer’s response to the situation? WWTTD?

ga gator

March 25th, 2010
2:42 pm

I agree Wonderdawg. He still doesn’t look well. Last year was a year from Hell for the Team. Going undefeated during regular season was never enough. If they didnt win by 50, the local media and fans were on the team. Thank God Bama will be preseason #1. Dawg fans should remember the pressure of 07 and I must say Richt did handle it well on the outside.

ga gator

March 25th, 2010
2:43 pm

good response LOL.

Reality Check

March 25th, 2010
2:45 pm

Georgia fans wish that Richt had balls like Meyer.
Maybe some folks need to start getting in people’s face in Athens???

BAMA on probation yet?

March 25th, 2010
2:45 pm

CUM has emotional and physical issues. No one can question his success. It would be nice to see him step away from this job before he does something to ruin what bit of goodwill he has left. Great column Tony, it took courage to write this one.

Ignoramus

March 25th, 2010
2:46 pm

Let’s face it, the South is full of dumbarse christians, all richt has to do is kiss jesus arse and he’s coach for life….

Hamad Meander

March 25th, 2010
2:46 pm

Urban Meyer needs a public relations firm to sit him down and tell him how to act with the media. He CLEARLY doesn’t understand how to deal with the press. His retirement-unretirement was a public relations disaster, and this confrontation was a display in immaturity.

Clearly, he needs to be reigned in for his own sake.

ga gator

March 25th, 2010
2:46 pm

MEDIA WRONG

March 25th, 2010
2:48 pm

Meyer was defending Deonte and he is a player’s coach. This is a big reason for Meyer’s success on the field. The player’s like him, he is able to bring this into the recruiting circle as players know he will back them. Criticism by people like Tony won’t affect Meyer’s success. Richt may not have done what Meyer did to a reporter but I think I would take Meyer’s success in winning two national championships.

MEDIA WRONG

March 25th, 2010
2:49 pm

Hamad you don’t win games by being friendly with the press. You win games by having the support of your players. Deonte Thompson is grateful for what Meyer did.

Sean Hannity

March 25th, 2010
2:54 pm

Typical of the media. They all cry freedom of speech, but what they really mean is freedom of the press. Dont critisize anything they report and for sure dont critisize them in front of their peers or in public.

JC in Powder Springs

March 25th, 2010
2:59 pm

Deonte Thompson is Meyers’ son??!! Wow, that is a huge story!

Hamad Meander

March 25th, 2010
3:03 pm

You don’t have to be unfriendly to the press to win football games either. Bobby Bowden, though some will argue his merits, won a ton of football games and was always open with the press. The problem with Meyer is that he picks fights with the press and is usually wrong when he does. This reporter stated in his article not to take Deonte’s ill crafted quote literally. That does not make him a “bad guy” and subject to physical or any other threats.

Perhaps both Meyer and his players should go to PR101 class and PRACTICE talking and interacting with the press.

Mike Shula

March 25th, 2010
3:16 pm

Has David Pollack’s motor stopped running yet?

W

March 25th, 2010
3:18 pm

Hamad are some kind of Arab Muslim Tech student?

LOL

March 25th, 2010
3:22 pm

Thanks Ga Gator, but you did not answer the question. What would Tim Tebow do?

Billy Madison

March 25th, 2010
3:27 pm

(*phone rings, ‘Telephone Lines” by ELO is playing in background*)
URBAN MEYER: “Hello?”
MEDIA: “Hey Urban. It’s the Media. Look, we know in the past we’ve worshipped you blindly, but this recent incident is causing some to question your almighty righteousness. We just wanted to say we’re sorry for upsetting you. We were stupid, and it won’t happen again.”
URBAN MEYER: “Okay.”
MEDIA: “So…maybe we’ll get a cup of coffee sometime or something.”
URBAN MEYER: “Yeah. Sounds good.”
(*Urban Meyer hangs up. The music gets louder. Urban Meyer uses lipstick to cross off reporter’s name on list titled “People To Kill”, applies lipstick to face*)

KB

March 25th, 2010
3:28 pm

Urban is going to make it. His wife needs to get in his face and tell him to get into another form of work. The way this guy is wired, his body is going to give out on him. If he can’t handle a screwup from a local reporter, what is he going to do in a tight game?

Mikey

March 25th, 2010
3:46 pm

What will Urb do when he faces some real adversity, like losing a few games or something?
I believe that we will see him drop dead on the sideline. Guy is wound way too tight.

foxandcoon

March 25th, 2010
3:52 pm

The cheese is slipping a little further on Urban’s cracker…

Paul Hamilton

March 25th, 2010
4:00 pm

This is sad to say, but I can totally see Meyer being the first coach to drop dead of a heart attack at practice or during a game. We have seen the rate of players dieing on the field increase in recent years and at some point one of these coaches is going to have the same thing happen.

Who’s jealous of Meyer??? I feel bad for the guy’s family that he doesn’t take his health a little more seriously. Tim Tebow doesn’t need his wittle coachie woachie to defend him. Meyer should grow up and relax a little. This wasn’t even worth getting upset over.

ga gator

March 25th, 2010
4:02 pm

LOL, I would imagine Tebow would be embarrassed by the whold thing.

TampaGator

March 25th, 2010
4:07 pm

I agree with Tony that there is a better way to handle what Meyer said to the reporter…in hindsite. But, Tony, you need to know that this reporter has written a lot of negative stuff about the Gators and Meyer (sort of like you)recently and over recent years…and I think Meyer was just getting sick and tired of the reporter taking pot shots and writing negative things about him, the program, and his players. The reporter made it personal long before he wrote the Thompson story. Even I have become upset about some of the question stories this reporter has written. Enough is enough…and Meyer told the reporter that, clearly!!! In addition, the Orlando Sentinel might as well be published by the FSU Alumi Association (like the AJC should be published by the Georgia Alumni Association). And….Wonder Dog…I don’t think Meyer would have hesitated saying the same thing to Golic if he had written the story. If you look at the photo of Meyer addressing the reporter, the reporter is taller and bigger than Meyer. This is a story that should have never been written, period. The reporter wrote it to make both Tebow and Thompson look bad and to sell newspapers….period. Other than that, the story had no value whatsoever. I don’t think Meyer would have been upset with the reporter if he had written a story about the different styles of Tebow and Brantley and had sensible quotes from Thompson related to that topic. The resporters journalism was not good journalism. It was grocery story tabloid copy at best….and I guess that is what it takes to sell newspapers these days.

Galin Hall

March 25th, 2010
4:08 pm

da’ breeds em good down florida way, ain’t got nothin 2due wit coachin’, its like jimmy da greek said the black athlete is the best, can’t argue wit’ logic, florida is da’ home of da’ homey. da rule….

MEDIA WRONG

March 25th, 2010
4:17 pm

Deonte Thompson is what this story is about not Tebow. Thompson was ridiculed for bashing Tebow, and that wasn’t his intent. He said he felt horrible about how he was not quoted accurately and portrayed in way that he didn’t intend. Meyer was defending Thompson against the media. The media has no mercy on student-athletes. Bash Meyer all you want. Like Spurrier used to say, you know you have a good team if everyone likes to criticize you etc. Evidently Meyer is getting under UGA’s skin just by winning lots of football games.

gdawginkalamazoo

March 25th, 2010
4:18 pm

As tight as Urban is wound I have a bad feeling that he just might channel the spirit of Woody Hayes on the sideline one Saturday afternoon.

As for all you gators asking us dawg fans what we would do if Richt ever did anything like this? I don’t think he ever would do something like this. However if it ever got that heated I think Richt would hit him with a “I am going to be praying for you brother” and walk away.

LOL, funny man. When Paul Johnson fails he just punches somebody in the face.

KJ

March 25th, 2010
4:26 pm

“Georgia fans wish that Richt had balls like Meyer.”

Um, making veiled threats to a reporter who has zero chance of responding physically does not equate to having “balls”. But I guess it’s not surprising that someone like you would think otherwise.

Volunteer Nation

March 25th, 2010
4:27 pm

Let’s face it Coach Urban Meyer (CUM) is scare about his prospects this season. He realizes UF’s no longer the best team in the east and that his beloved Teabag is gone to the 3rd rd of the NFL draft to play TE.

Expect more anger from CUM than you’ve seen since his early days at Utah St.

MEDIA WRONG

March 25th, 2010
4:29 pm

Who is the best team in the East? UF is the heavy favorite

ga gator

March 25th, 2010
4:31 pm

Volunteer Nation, Too bad your beloved Peyton Manning came back for a 4th year and couldn’t beat the Gators. Your 4th again in the east loser.

Maxx

March 25th, 2010
4:38 pm

WHAT A SURPRISE, URBAN CRYER WHINING AND CRYING AND BEING A DICK! WHAT A JERK THAT GUY IS! I THOUGHT NICK SABAN WAS THE BIGGEST DICK IN THE SEC, BUT URBAN CRYER HAS OFFICIALLY TAKEN HIS PLACE AS #1! WHAT AN ASS!!!

WonderDawg

March 25th, 2010
4:51 pm

Uh, Vol Nation, so who is the best team in the SEC East? It’s UF hands down still. I think the days of UGA’s D giving up 40 plus points are over, but Bobo cannot outcoach SEC DCs, so we’re still a couple of years and one more NFL hiring (OC) from challenging again.

ga gator

March 25th, 2010
4:54 pm

WonderDawg, if one of your QB’s work out, it will be a dog (no pun) between the 2 of us this year.

PTC DAWG

March 25th, 2010
5:07 pm

Meyer does a good job of keeping the story about him. He loves the limelight…and it worked, he got Tony to come back to write about him.

WonderDawg

March 25th, 2010
5:15 pm

Oh, we’re hang with you better than the last two games, but this QB thing has me worried. Richt botched UGA’s last true “QB competition” (Joe T, Joe Cox, Matt Stafford) for nearly a whole season, being wishy-washy about a starter. Didn’t finally settle on Stafford til bout the 6th game, when everyone in the USA knew it had to him.

Plus, look how OSU, LSU, UT, UF and even UK shut our offense down last year. Basic, predictable schemes. Bobo needs to move back to QB coach and Richt needs to raid the NFL again, but it won’t happen til after this year.

jcwfalcon

March 25th, 2010
5:21 pm

Props to Fowler. If Meyer told me that while pointing his finger in my face I’d probably blow up. He should have said “And if you and I went at it, i’d whip you weak hearted hiney all over this practice field for these cameras and your fans to see.”