Urban Meyer verbally undressed Orlando Sentinel reporter Jeremy Fowler at practice yesterday, saying, “You’re a bad guy, man. You’re a bad guy. If that was my son we’d be going at it right now.” Meyer claimed Fowler took a quote from a player out of context, and as the story went national, former Gators’ QB Tim Tebow was the collateral damage. Meyer threatened to revoke the Sentinel’s media credential. Who is at fault, the reporter or the coach of the Gators?
Here’s Fowler’s initial blog post about Deonte Thompson (and this story that appeared in the paper), a receiver who was excited about having drop-back passer John Brantley running the show this year because he’s a “a real quarterback.” You know, as opposed to Tim Tebow, last year’s run-happy (fake?) quarterback. In Fowler’s defense, there’s plenty of context surrounding the quote. It doesn’t read as if Thompson is slamming Tebow. (Though fire-starting Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi sort of thought so.) Here’s video of Thompson’s initial remarks. They seem harmless.
So what is Meyer hot and bothered about? According to a writer in Florida, that isn’t Fowler’s initial blog post. We hear the initial blog post provided considerably less context and was very direct (ie, Thompson rips Tebow). As the writer tells us, Fowler softened the blog post as the story quickly spread. (Or, perhaps the writer realized that this college kid wasn’t in fact ripping Tebow, but perhaps just isn’t a polished speaker. As the above video shows, Thompson says plenty of nice things about Tebow.) Unfortunately, we are unable to find the original version, and Fowler didn’t return an email or twitter message seeking clarification. When Fowler initially tweeted about Thompson’s quotes, he only mentioned the “real quarterback” part, and that quickly was picked up by message boards. An hour later, as the story quickly gained momentum online, Fowler tried to soften the blow with this tweet: “In fairness to Thompson, he either meant Brantley is simply more of a traditional-style QB or he wanted to slight Tebow.”
This story is already out there, so I just figured I’d present my side. Coaches get mad, so they approach reporters about it. I get that. A reporter’s probably not doing his or her job without getting blasted once in awhile.
But maybe Meyer felt like making a statement. Considering Meyer is a guy who is trying to suppress his stress level, his doctors probably would have frowned on today’s incident.
Maybe Meyer was … showing off for his daughter, the Georgia Tech volleyball player? Unlikely. We just felt like mentioning her so that we could link up this video.