Okay, if you're now keeping score at home, in the last three months Florida Gators head football coach Urban Meyer has now resigned, said "backsies" on the retirement and instead taken a leave of absence, and then went "backsies" on the leave of absence after one really good practice.
Spring ball started this month and there was Meyer, twirling his whistle, steering the ship as if none of the drama from late 2009 ever happened. So forgive me if I think that it's just a little ironic for a guy who made everyone in Gator Nation, including his employer, stop everything they were doing, all for nothing, to call out a reporter named Jeremy Fowler who writes for the Orlando Sentinel. Fowler's crime? Quoting one of Meyer's players...accurately.
If you missed it, after practice one day last week, wide receiver Deonte Thompson was asked about playing receiver with the more conventional-than-Tebow John Brantley and he had this to say:
Things are going to get better here in the future...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.
Now if you saw the bite and knew anything about Thompson, you'd know his point was Brantley is a more traditional pocket passer than Tebow, and therefore a little easier to play with if you're a pass catcher. That was all. So of course, in this world where we're all suffering from a bit of Tebow-lash, the quote was picked up by every media outlet and positioned as if Thompson had slighted the Chosen One. All of a sudden, yesterday everyone's interpretation of a direct quote became Fowler's problem.
Check out the video of Meyer lambasting Fowler in front of his peers...
Highlights if you don't have Youtube access:
"You're a bad guy, man. You're a bad guy,'' Meyer said to Fowler. "If that (Thompson) was my son, we'd be going at it right now...You'll be out of practice -- you understand that? -- if you do that again. I told you five years ago: Don't mess with our players. Don't do it. You did it. You do it one more time and the Orlando Sentinel's not welcome here ever again. Is that clear?"
Those quotes are bullying enough, but to me the most ominous blast was the two words Meyer fired off as he left the group:
When you sift through most of Meyer's rhetoric, it's just angry, personal insults (i.e. "bad guy" etc), but that last blast was meant to be a threat that if Fowler continues to...well, do his job, I
guess... that there would be consequences. A very petty, Carmela Soprano-esque "My friends are more powerful than your friends" exclamation point.
Makes you wonder what Meyer would do if someone actually misquoted him or his players.
At the core of Meyer's vitriol is probably some hypersensitivity to the additional fuel thrown on the fire that Meyer didn't develop Tebow to be ready for anything having to do with the NFL. And that's the greater irony -- given a chance to teach one of his players a valuable media relations lesson ("Watch what you sat and choose your words carefully") he instead chose to teach them that you handle it by bullying someone doing their job. Fail, Urban. On every level. Fail.
Instead of making the best of it, you channeled your inner Gundy. We get it, Urban. You're a man! You're 45!
Remember last year when Shane Matthews, former UF quarterback turned announcer, had the gall to critique the Gators (another one of those pesky people doing his job)? The bright side in all this? At least Fowler has someone to sit with in the parking lot after Urbie has them banned.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on the
Sean & John Show, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
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