Unlike FSU and UF, UM stays off police blotter
Dave Hyde | Sports Columnist
May 28, 2009
Sure, the e-mails are coming. I knew they would. Several a day. A couple of dozen in a week.
When a Florida State football player was arrested Tuesday for an incident involving a woman getting hit with a chair last November, a University of Miami fan wrote:
"If a Miami player did that, we'd be Thug U all over again ..."
When a Florida player was arrested last week for punching a man after trying to enter the victim's apartment, a Miami fan wondered why Urban Meyer wasn't being questioned about his 23rd player being arrested in four years.
"And don't tell me that winning cures all, because Miami was drilled by the media ten times as much when they won," the e-mail said.
All true. All fair. At least as far as it goes. There's a triple-standard being applied to the three state teams, at least if you only look at the time since Randy Shannon became coach more than a couple of years ago.
It's most pronounced by Florida and Miami. The arrest record in that span is about the same as the score on the field between these teams: Florida 15, Miami 1. And the one for Miami was freshman Robert Marve breaking a car mirror.
In the interim, Florida players have punched women, stolen property and been involved with guns and drugs. Yet nobody on ESPN is so much as reporting this. Nobody at Sports Illustrated is saying the Florida team picture should be taken from the front and the side.
Nobody at all is suggesting the University of Florida's championship luster should be dimmed even a little over the past four years by the arrest of 23 football players.
There's a hard lesson in this for Miami fans, and a harder warning for Florida fans. It's not as easy as the big, bad media picking on the Hurricanes, either. It's something you're told early in life: Once you lose your reputation, it's hard to get back.
Florida State has had its issues, but its national reputation isn't nearly as scarred as Miami's.
Miami lost its reputation, fair and square. There can't be any revisionist history here. This dates to 1986 when there were fights, arrests and phone-card frauds that involved 40 players.
In following years there was a Pell Grant scandal, the covering up of Warren Sapp's drug test and a rap star allegedly offering money for big hits on opponents. Even after Butch Davis calmed the waters, there came incidents that took the national story on a different, sensational tact: The murder of two players and an ugly brawl with FIU.
Did the players' murders, even if they were the victims, play into some national image of Miami? Sadly, yes. Was the brawl video overplayed? Sure.
But a couple of quiet years under Shannon can't completely erase years of issues. They help explain why I hope Shannon succeeds at Miami, though.
He is trying to show that winning and behavior aren't tied together. That's the cliche: On-field success and bad off-field behavior have a direct relationship.
Miami provides this warning to Florida: You're one ugly story or video moment from turning those 23 arrests under Meyer into national fodder. He better get a handle on this.
He has brought in lecturers to talk to the team. He says he's leaned on assistant coaches.
"There's not a day that goes by that we don't discuss all of the issues, the potential issues, that are out there," he told The Gainesville Sun.
"We've had a few of them, but we're getting a little better."
Last week's arrest marks the fifth Gator arrested in a year. That's better? No one expects a perfect mark. These are college kids, after all. But the way things are going, maybe Meyer should try something different before his school's reputation changes.
Maybe he should pick up the phone.
Maybe he should call Randy Shannon.