Most of us have seen the video by now of Florida coach Urban Meyer dressing down Orlando Sentinel beat writer Jeremy Fowler after practice on Wednesday.
I watched it a couple of different times, made some calls and re-read Fowler’s blog entry that precipitated the whole exchange.
A quote by Florida receiver Deonte Thompson, who was discussing the differences between current quarterback John Brantley and former quarterback Tim Tebow, is apparently what infuriated Meyer.
Thompson, who’s struggled with inconsistency, was quoted as saying: “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, in Thompson’s defense, what he likely meant to say was a quarterback who was more of a pocket passer.
But he said what he said, and Fowler quoted him accordingly in his blog. It’s also worth noting that Fowler didn’t lead his piece with the quote or attempt to sensationalize it with a headline that read something like: Thompson says Brantley is a real quarterback.
Rather, the quote was several graphs down in the story, which centered on Thompson and his eagerness to jump-start his career with Brantley at the helm.
If Meyer has a beef with anybody, it’s with Thompson and his choice of words, even though I don’t think it was Thompson’s intention to rip Tebow. He was just being candid.
But coaches typically don’t like candor with the media, especially when that candor is directed at an icon like Tebow.
It’s no secret that Meyer and Tebow share a special relationship. In Meyer’s mind, he was protecting his guys. Coaches talk all the time about players having each other’s back. He was doing the same for both Tebow and Thompson.
I suspect there’s also something else at play here.
Meyer and the whole Florida offensive staff are probably a little sensitive about the way Tebow’s mechanics and delivery have been picked apart by NFL people. You’re talking about one of the best college football players of our era, and his delivery is having to be totally re-worked for a lot of teams to even consider drafting him as a quarterback.
You think that impacts the Gators’ recruitment of a pro-style quarterback in future years?
You think rival coaches are going to use that against the Gators?
You think anything that remotely suggests that Tebow wasn’t properly developed at Florida causes Meyer to bristle?
The answer to all three questions is yes.
Anybody who’s ever been around Tebow for any period of time knows what a stand-up guy he is. So it’s only human nature for his coaches and teammates to want to stand up for him if he’s cast in a negative light.
Tebow would do the same for them.
But for Meyer to direct thinly veiled threats at Fowler, telling him to be careful, and then suggesting that they would probably be going at it (fighting) if Meyer were the father in this case comes across as amateurish for a coach who’s won two of the last four national championships.
Don’t make a show of it. Then again, maybe Meyer wanted to make a show of it.
Either way, it’s good to see that he’s easing his way back into things.