Miami-FIU brawl


Miami-FIU brawl

The Miami-FIU brawl was a bench-clearing brawl that occurred on October 14, 2006 in a college football game between the University of Miami Hurricanes and the Florida International University Golden Panthers at the Orange Bowl stadium in Miami, Florida. Miami would go on to win the game 35-0.

Background

Florida International University (FIU) and the University of Miami are only nine miles (15 km) apart. FIU is a public university located in western Miami (playing at FIU Stadium), while the University of Miami is a private university in the suburb of Coral Gables (though at the time of the incident it played its home games at the Miami Orange Bowl). The 2006 game was intended to be the first in the "City Line Series," an annual series between the two Miami-area schools.

Most of Miami and FIU's players are from the South Florida metropolitan area, often having played alongside and against each other in high school. Miami was heavily favored over FIU, which was in its fifth season of football and in its second year in Division I FBS.

The brawl

Throughout the game, players from both teams engaged in trash-talk and were increasingly physical. By the third quarter, officials had called seven penalties (six for FIU and one for Miami). [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/playbyplay?gameId=262872390&quarter=0 Miami-FIU Play-by-Play on ESPN] ]

With 9 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, Miami H-back James Bryant caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kyle Wright, making the score 13-0 Miami. After scoring, Bryant pointed at the FIU bench and bowed to the crowd. Bryant, who later transferred to the University of Louisville, was called for unsportsmanlike conduct.

During the ensuing PAT attempt, FIU cornerback Chris Smith wrestled Miami holder Matt Perelli to the ground after the kick and appeared to punch him in the chin. Another FIU cornerback, Marshall McDuffie, Jr., kicked Perelli in the head. [ [http://www.sportingnews.com/yourturn/viewtopic.php?p=1250765 Miami, FIU extend brawl punishments] ] Miami players, including Calais Campbell, came to Perelli's defense, separating Miami and FIU players. FIU's Lionel Singleton punched Campbell in the back of the helmet, which was quickly followed by retaliation from both teams, escalating the fight to a bench-clearing brawl. Miami's Anthony Reddick swung his helmet at FIU players and Miami's Brandon Meriweather kicked an FIU player. FIU's A'Mod Ned, who was injured, came onto the field and swung at Miami players with his crutches. The fight lasted five minutes, and Miami-Dade County police had to come on the field to restore order.

Officials needed several minutes to sort out the penalties. Ultimately, 13 players were assessed 15-yard penalties for fighting and ejected from the game (eight from FIU and five from Miami). Although the unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for fighting offset each other, Miami was forced to kick off from its own 10-yard line due to the original penalty against Bryant (penalized at half the distance to the goal).

Former Miami wide receiver Lamar Thomas, who was broadcasting the game for Comcast Sports Southeast, made several controversial comments during the scuffle, including:

"Now, that's what I'm talking about! You come into our house, you should get your behind kicked! You don't come into the OB playing that stuff....You can't come over to our place talking noise like that. You'll get your butt beat. I was about to go down the elevator to get in that thing.....I say, why don't we meet outside in the tunnel after the ball game and get it on some more? You don't come into the OB, baby. We've had a down couple of years but you don't come in here talking smack. Not in our house."
As the Miami players jumped with their helmets raised in the air on the sidelines, Thomas exclaimed "They're saying 'We Ready! We Ready! We Ready!" [cite web|url=http://www.cbc.ca/cp/football/061016/f101693.html|title=Announcer Lamar Thomas is fired for comments made about the brawl|accessdate=2007-05-21] [ http://www.newsday.com/sports/football/ny-spmiami174936692oct17,0,783086.story?coll=ny-football-headlines]

Aftermath

The incident won almost instant condemnation from all sides. FIU head coach Don Strock said he was "embarrassed" for what happened, and said that he would impose sanctions even more severe than any imposed by the Sun Belt Conference, the conference in which FIU plays. Miami head coach Larry Coker was "shocked and angered" by the brawl. [cite web|url=http://www.palmbeachpost.com/sports/content/sports/epaper/2006/10/15/z1bb_um_1015.html|title=Recap of the events including the coaches reactions|accessdate=2007-05-21]

The next day, 31 players from both schools — 18 from FIU, 13 from Miami — were handed one-game suspensions. [cite web|url=http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,220962,00.html|title=31 Players were suspended for their involvement|accessdate=2007-05-21]

*For FIU: cornerback Marshall McDuffie, Jr., cornerback Chris Smith, offensive lineman Michael Alls, offensive linemen Chad Sales, linebacker Mannie Wellington, linebacker Michael Dominguez, linebacker Scott Bryant, defensive lineman Roland Clarke, fullback John Ellis, defensive back Cory Fleming, defensive lineman Reginald Jones, defensive back Robert Mitchell, linebacker Quentin Newman, defensive lineman Luis Pena, defensive end Jarvis Penerton, running back Julian Reams, defensive back Lionell Singleton, tight end Samuel Smith and wide receiver Chandler Williams
*For Miami: cornerback Carlos Armour, offensive tackle Chris Barney, H-back James Bryant, offensive tackle Tyrone Byrd, tight end DajLeon Farr, wide receiver Ryan Hill, cornerback Bruce Johnson, running back Charlie Jones, safety Brandon Meriweather, punter Brian Monroe, offensive guard Derrick Morse, cornerback Randy Phillips and safety Anthony Reddick

In both schools' cases, the suspensions were not staggered, which was unusual considering the number of players involved. The ejected players (Chris Smith, McDuffie, Singleton, Ellis, Williams, Wellington and Penerton for FIU; Morse, Barney, Jones, Armour, Johnson and Samuel Smith for Miami) already faced minimum one-game suspensions under NCAA regulations for ejections.

On Monday, Coker suspended Bryant, Merriweather and Reddick indefinitely and announced that the other players would have to complete community service and sit out the next game, against Duke. The school also enacted a "zero tolerance" policy for future incidents: any Hurricane involved in a fight will be suspended for the remainder of the season, and could face permanent banishment from the team. University president Donna Shalala announced that the other 12 players would not face additional suspensions. She also said that Coker would not be fired.

Also on Monday, FIU kicked Chris Smith and McDuffie off the team (though they were allowed to keep their scholarships), and the remaining players were suspended indefinitely. FIU also placed the suspended players on probation for the remainder of the year.

ESPN.com's Gene Wojciechowski called Miami's one-game suspensions "a soothing caress and manicure", suggested that Coker should be fired, and called for Miami to wipe the game from its records. [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/columns/story?id=2628365 Laughable suspensions aren't nearly enough] ]

Lamar Thomas was fired by CSS, and the network edited out his comments when it rebroadcasted the game on October 18. Later in the day, he told ESPN Radio's Dan Patrick that he had gotten carried away in the moment. [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=2628184# Lamar Thomas interview by Dan Patrick on ESPN Radio] ]

Coker also came under fire for some of his comments after the incident. "I think that it will affect the image of our program greatly, but in a positive way," he said. "I think that when they see the video and they see how it was handled they will be impressed with our players." [cite web|url=http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061016/SPORTS02/610160394&SearchID=73260055560430|title=Detroit News: Monday Morning Quarterback|accessdate=2007-05-21] Additionally, he was quoted in the Miami Herald as saying "I think you've got a lot of players from their team frustrated because they're not here, and maybe were not recruited." [Costa, Brian. [http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/sports/colleges/university_of_miami/15769356.htm Suspensions handed down for fracas] . Miami Herald 2006-10-16. Last accessed 2006-11-16.] His handling of the incident contributed to speculation that he would not return in 2007, Shalala's vote of confidence notwithstanding. [Bianchi, Mike. [http://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports/college/seminoles/orl-bianchi10_206nov10,0,2033031.column?coll=orl-sports-headlines-seminoles To rebuild image, 'Thug U' needs new leadership] . Orlando Sentinel 2006-11-10. Last accessed 2006-11-16.]

Coker was in fact fired at the end of the season, while Strock resigned at the end of the season.

FIU and Miami played the following season, on September 15, 2007, without incident on the field as Miami won 23-9. FIU was led by Mario Cristobal, who was previously Miami's offensive line coach.

References

ee also

*South Carolina-Clemson brawl, a similar bench-clearing incident in 2004


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