“THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT”: Miami defends the green and orange at the OB. Click on the image to watch the video on YouTube, complete with Lamar Thomas's commentary.
"Back to you, Lamar"
Remember when the University of Miami was an unbeatable football team? Blame it on the ghost of Willie Williams; the school is now a national laughingstock and a feeder academy for future NFL felons. What happened last weekend in the Orange Bowl drubbing of Florida International University underscored an emerging trend in football misbehavior: on-field violence. Tennessee Titan Albert Haynesworth and the Hurricanes have starred in the lion’s share of these recent headlines, but their actions have by no means been isolated incidents.
Few remember that the Hurricanes had a major brawl during a practice last summer, when an overaggressive pancaking by guard Derrick Morse led to an offense-versus-defense fracas that left him sidelined for eight weeks with a broken shoulder. Miami also brawled with LSU following last year’s Peach Bowl; this year they famously “disrespected” the Louisville Cardinals’ logo in an incident that almost spun out of control.
But college football has had plenty of doozies in recent years, not the least of which was a monster fight between Clemson and South Carolina at the end of the 2004 season. More than 90 students also brawled at a game between Charleston State and West Virginia State University a week or so before the Miami-FIU debacle.
Still, the most shameful aspect of the Miami incident last weekend — in which a Blazing Saddles–style fight broke out in the third quarter of the game — was the mere fact that the game was being played. What the hell is Florida International University, anyway? And what the hell is a “Golden Panther”? With the exception of a few black ones, aren’t they all golden? In any case, FIU’s place as a roster pushover for underperforming D1 programs may be in jeopardy after the brawl, in which 18 Golden Panthers earned suspensions. FIU became one of the first colleges to issue its suspended players criminal-style punishments, forcing them to undergo 50 hours of community service and 10 hours of anger management. No word yet on what the Miami punishments will be.
One unfortunate consequence of the fight is the loss of onetime pregnant-girlfriend batterer Lamar Thomas as a Comcast announcer. Thomas, whom Pats fans may remember as a mediocre wideout who caught a few passes in the 1997 playoffs, is a former Hurricane who stunned Florida with his play-by-play of the fight:
“You know, I say why don’t they just meet outside in the tunnel after the ballgame and get it on some more,” he said on the telecast. “You don’t come into the OB [Orange Bowl], baby . . . talking trash — not in our house. That’s what I’m talking about. You come into our house, you should get your behind kicked. You don’t come in to the OB playing that. . . . You’ll get your butt beat. I was about to go down the elevator to get in that thing.”
Thomas apologized on ESPN radio, but was fired by Comcast anyway.
Not to dwell on it, because it isn’t funny, but a Saskatchewan court appears to be making sports-crime history.
Trevis Smith, a CFL linebacker for the unfortunately named (especially in this case) Roughriders, had his trial postponed last week. He was due to stand trial for sexual assault in what is believed to be the first instance of a pro athlete being charged with failing to inform a sexual partner of his HIV-positive status.
Smith, an Alabama native, has expressed little remorse for his alleged victims and complained last week of delays. “You can’t make a living for yourself,” he said. “I can’t even support my kids by being under these conditions and now I have to wait three more months. It’s unrealistic.”
Here’s another first. School officials at Utah’s South Sevier High School found a sheep — apparently meant to represent the school’s mascot, the Ram — hanging from a goal post last week. The sheep had also been shot in the head. Students from rival Richfield High School are suspects in the incident, which is believed to be one of the most extreme pre-game pranks of all time.
The Humane Society of Utah denounced the act as disgusting, but South Sevier coach Travis McAllister seemed to approve. “It’s part of the rivalry,” the coach said. “It gives our kids an incentive to play harder.”
When he’s not googling “Miami” and “hell on earth,” Matt Taibbi is writing for Rolling Stone. He can be reached atM_Taibbi@yahoo.com.