Biggest Loser, v 3.0 -- Luther Campbell
Luther Campbell brings the craziness
Yes, we're dusting off the Biggest Loser feature again! I'm sure you're fired up. The feature that was originally meant to highlight specific groups of people with dysfunctional behavior and whose rules were subsequently bent to include specific individuals in the second version, now adds another individual to its figurative Wall of Shame.
To recap, here are the first two winners (with links to their stories):
Biggest Loser, v 1.0 -- Brewer Lawn Ornament Hoarder
Biggest Loser, v 2.0 -- (Then) Dallas Cowboys WR Roy Williams
Rice University Owls Football vs. Prairie View A&M University Football
TicketsSat., Oct. 22, 2:30pm
University of Houston Cougars Football vs. UCF Knights Football
TicketsSat., Oct. 29, 11:00am
Rice University Owls Football vs. Florida Atlantic University Owls Football
TicketsSat., Nov. 5, 2:30pm
University of Houston Cougars Football vs. Tulane University Football
TicketsSat., Nov. 12, 11:00am
Today, we add rapper and Miami Hurricane diehard supporter, Luther Campbell!
The former frontman for 2 Live Crew and noted friend of the Hurricane program, especially back in the late `80's, is probably best known as the alleged financial backer of a bounty system to pay Hurricane players for things like big hits, shutting down opponents' top players, and injuries to top opposing stars (I always wonder what the total price list looked like for the different in-game events. I always thought that the "injury bounty" probably held a status equivalent to a new car on The Price is Right.)
Somehow, a bunch of players cashing in on thuggery has become one of those "we all look back on it and laugh now" thing for many of the Hurricane followers (nice program, huh), as was documented in the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary entitled The U (the best of those documentaries, in my opinion).
So fond were the memories of bounties and subsidizing the players' "walking around" money that one booster decided to not only keep it alive, but enhance the program by adding things like yachts, trips, and abortions for impregnated strippers (allegedly). You've probably heard the story by now of Nevin Shapiro, the convicted felon who ran a $930 million Ponzi scheme to subsidize a lifestyle that included paying enough Miami Hurricane players the last ten years to field his own Pro Bowl team.
Well, Shapiro saw himself in this "sugar daddy" role as Campbell's successor, essentially grabbing the metaphorical NCAA violation torch and running with it (from the Orlando Sun Sentinel):
Shapiro's quote on Campbell that prompted the suit: "Luther Campbell was the first uncle who took care of players [at UM] before I got going. His role was diminished by the NCAA and the school and someone needed to pick up that mantle. That someone was me. He was 'Uncle Luke' and I became 'Little Luke.'"
Never mind that in practically every picture that includes Shapiro with members of the Hurricane football team that the "fanboyishness" of Shapiro oozes off the page, I just think it's hilarious that of all the traditions that a fanatical Hurricane fan felt needed to be kept alive, paying players was at the top of the list.
In a sport steeped in tradition, this amused me greatly.
Touchdown Jesus. Howard's Rock. Bevo. Miami's bounty system.
Traditions like no other!
So why is Luther Campbell a loser in all of this? Well, because news broke today that Campbell was none too happy about Shapiro's claims that he was merely continuing a system that Campbell had implemented some 25 years ago. These "allegations" made Campbell mad as hell, and he's not gonna take it!
In fact, Campbell was so angry that he filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, and he seeks more than $15,000 in damages from Shapiro.
According to the lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, Shapiro "has slandered and defamed [Campbell] because this is untrue, false, knowingly so and the product of malicious intent.''
Don't get me wrong, I'd love nothing more than to see this case see the light of a courtroom, mostly because it would bring Nevin Shapiro (one of the more fascinating sleazeballs of the last few years) back into our lives in some fashion. (Sidebar: I would love to know how Campbell arrived at the $15,000 number. Seems random, and low for this type of effort.)
But why do I say Campbell is our third iteration of "Biggest Loser"? Well...slandered and defamed. Luther? Really?
That would seem to imply that Shapiro's contention that he was continuing Campbell's tradition of paying players was a lie. I would ask Luther Campbell does he really want to pay lawyers their hefty hourly fees to assist him in a case where the other side merely needs to pull out an iPad and play this video?
In case you lost count, Campbell gets ratted out roughly 900 times in three minutes by former Hurricane players and even implies himself that the payments all happened at the 0:57 second mark when he "denies" the scheme with a sarcastic headscratch and smirk attached.
Taking the frivolity of the suit one step further, even if Campbell had a case, I'm fairly certain that the best chance he would have of seeing a fraction of his sought retribution would involve Shapiro paying him in cigarettes.
Add it all up -- Hurricane booster, bounty subsidizer, frivolously litigious -- and you have the third member of the "Biggest Loser" club. Welcome in, Uncle Luke!
Listen to Sean Pendergast on Yahoo! Sports Radio and 1560 The Game from noon to 3PM weekdays, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.