For those of you who didn’t see Urban Meyer’s tirade against Orlando Sentinel reporter Jeremy Fowler last week, we can fill you in. (Also, make sure you adjust the video clip to reflect ESPN’s pro-Florida stance just in case they ever have to enter this piece of Gator protection into talks to purchase more SEC games from CBS.)
Anyway, it’s the classic story that brings two people together. Players says something dumb to reporter. Reporter does his job. Coach gets pissed and rants to preserve his gridiron domain.
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Let’s pass out some blame here. First of all, Deonte Thompson has to be more aware of what he’s saying. Yes, it’s probably a simple misunderstanding, but as a journalist, it’s not Fowler’s job to affix meaning to an interviewee’s words. Fowler presented them with plenty of context and the offending sentence came at the end of a long quote. If Urban’s going to be mad at someone, maybe it should be at the player who apparently sleep-walked through his media relations briefings.
That brings me to Urban, who absolutely confronted the wrong person in this situation in the wrong way and, thankfully for the rest of us, at the wrong time near a video crew that could broadcast his childish tantrum to the world. If he was going to take it out on someone, maybe it should have been Thompson for spilling the secret that Meyer spent countless hours diagramming offenses to try to hide. Surely, most everybody attending NFL workouts knows it, as does any wideout running a 20-yard out route off a five-step drop.
And finally, there is some blame that has to go out to Fowler himself. Not because he did his job wrong; he absolutely didn’t. As far as anyone has reported, he obtained the quote properly and followed all due diligence in the process with the lone exception of checking the “Urban Meyer Manual of Self-Service” which should be located next to his AP Style guide. The major mistake he made was not dropping Meyer like a bad habit right then and there. Yes he would have lost his job, but he would have entered the halls of infamy forever, and become something close to the next Jim Rome.
I also have to say that I’m disappointed with Fowler’s interview with media after Big Bad Urban found it in his heart to be told to apologize. Of all people to give a meaningless interview which tells people nothing and is full of lip service and cliches, you’d think a journalist would shy away from it for karma’s sake, if nothing else. I understand he has to cover his ass and try to patch the bridge which Meyer just fire-bombed for the good of his career, but from the outside, it just looks like acquiescence to the Gator machine.
-Matthew De George ’10