Urban Meyer goes off on reporter after practice

By Adam Silverstein
March 24, 2010

The top story coming out of Florida Gators spring practice Wednesday was not redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley being absent due to a fever and sore throat or even redshirt senior running back Emmanuel Moody leaving the field on crutches with an ankle injury. Instead, it was head coach Urban Meyer verbally attacking beat writer Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel.

Monday, Fowler wrote an article quoting redshirt junior wide receiver Deonte Thompson who made an eyebrow-raising comments about former QB Tim Tebow. “You never know with Tim,” Thompson said. “He can bolt. You think he’s running but he’ll come up and pass it to you. You just have to be ready. With Brantley, everything’s with rhythm, with time. You know what I mean, a real quarterback.”

Fowler was doing his job here – the player said it, he quoted him word-for-word. Some might question whether doing so in the manner he did was sensationalistic, but if he didn’t report the quote, it is likely someone else would have. However, Meyer did not see it that way and, after practice Wednesday, he made that quite clear to Fowler in what is (right now) the biggest story of the spring.

Watch and read what Meyer and Fowler had to say to each other after the break!

Video courtesy of GatorBait.net and Steve Johnson.
[flashvideo filename=Video/Urban%20Meyer%20rants%20on%20Jeremy%20Fowler.flv /]

Starting off by informing the reporter that he was a “bad guy,” Meyer began this rant while pointing his finger: “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? It’s yes or no.”

To his credit, Fowler did not back down one bit. “Urban, come on. Don’t make any threats,” Fowler replied. “That’s fine. I’ll play by the rules. But all I was doing was quoting the guy. I don’t think I was the only one.”

Meyer’s response? “You’re a bad guy, man. You’re a bad guy. […] If [Thompson] was my son, we’d be going at it right now.”

It is not uncommon or even questionable for a coach to go off on a reporter for an unflattering story about himself, a member of his staff or one of his players. What is noteworthy in this instance is the level Meyer took his rant to – including threatening physicality and mentioning pulling Fowler’s credential.

Thompson, apparently, has been bothered about the hoopla over his comment. Florida responded by barring players and coaches from speaking to reporters after practice (at least) Wednesday.

OGGOA spoke with Fowler tonight, but unfortunately he declined further comment.

Photo Credits: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images, Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun

56 Comments

  1. Joe says:

    I agree 100% with you AS. There are better ways to fix the issue.

  2. Robert says:

    I laugh at all the reporters that say Fowler didn’t back down at all. He looked and stuttered like he was about to get beaten up on the playground again. And all this b.s. about Urban blowing up, what a joke. He didn’t yell or scream, he just told him firmly you are out line and if it happens again you’re done. I hate the media, they spent four years adoring Tebow, now they try to make him out like he was brutal. Urban was right, Tebow was a great athlete and an even better person. What his fate is in the NFL doesn’t diminish what he did at Florida. And by the way, I’m a MICHIGAN fan!

  3. joe doakes says:

    This won’t be easy for athletic director Jeremy Foley, because Urban Meyer has become such a dominant figure at the University of Florida, but Foley has to find a way to sit down with his football coach and explain to him that he just made a complete fool of himself — without sounding too condescending, because we know how sensitive Meyer is. The reporter did his job. In fact, if the reporter hadn’t used the accurately quoted remarks he got from Thompson, he should be fired by the Orlando Sentinel.

    Here are Meyer’s biggest mistakes: (a) going jaw to jaw with a reporter who does not have a reputation for bashing the Florida football team. If you want to confront the guy, you don’t get in his face. You stand back a few feet and you don’t all but jab a finger into his chest. That’s the stuff of bullies; (b) you don’t threaten to ban the largest newspaper that covers the Gators on a daily basis. Geez, Urban, are you that stupid?; (c) you don’t treat grown men (your players) like children who can’t speak for themselves. This is a multi-million dollar business which absolutely dominates sports news in most of Florida. Your team and your player’s views are going to be taken seriously and recorded for public consumption. Get used to it, Urban.

    Urban Meyer is NOT Jim Leavitt. To begin with, Leavitt is out of a job. Second, while Leavitt made a very healthy salary at USF, it was nowhere near Meyer’s. Also, while Leavitt was a good coach, his record doesn’t approach Meyer’s. But there is a dangerous similarity between the two men. Leavitt, after turning down Alabama and getting a fat raise, became an institution unto himself at USF and that, ultimately, led to his firing. Meyer appears to be on the same path — as if he’s bigger than the university. He’s not and Foley needs to find a diplomatic way of letting Meyer know that Foley is in charge, not Meyer, and that another blowup like the one involving this reporter won’t be tolerated, no matter how damn successful you are.

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