University of Florida’s coach Urban Meyer announced yesterday that linebacker Brandon Spikes would be suspended for the first half of this weekend’s game against Vanderbilt for intentionally trying to eye gouge a Georgia player on Saturday. Half a game for trying to poke out another person’s eyes in a football game? Half a game in a game that Florida essentially has no chance of losing? This is outrageous.
Watch the video of Spikes eye gouging and decide for youself. I think this offense is significantly worse than the post-game punch involving LeGarrett Blount from the University of Oregon at the beginning of the season. Blount’s actions occurred after the season opener and he was suspended for the entire season. The University of Oregon determined the suspension and the Pac-10 supported its decision. Blount was arguably Oregon’s best player and they realized they risked their season to do what was right with his suspension. Oregon showed what sportsmanship and integrity are about. Here is the video of Blount’s punch to refresh your memory.
In the Spikes case, Florida determined a one-half suspension was appropriate and the Southeastern Conference (SEC) supported the school’s decision. This ruling appalls me for several reasons:
- This shows complete lack of sportsmanship by Urban Meyer, the University of Florida and the SEC. In a moment of emotion, Spikes deliberately tried to physically harm another player completely outside the bounds of football. If this incident occurred off the field, he would likely face misdemeanor assault charges. In this situation, however, he’s going to miss 30 minutes of football. I think Coach Meyer failed miserably in his job to turn these players into men.
- Proves that Florida cares only about winning football games at any cost. Spikes is a captain and arguably the best defensive player on the team. Losing him for a period of time significantly weakens the Florida team and hurts their chances for another SEC title and potential appearance in the BCS Championship Game.
- It continues a bad trend of football players in the state of Florida essentially have no fear of punishment. Several years ago, the University of Miami had a huge on-field brawl with Florida International. Brandon Meriweather (who by the way is on my fantasy team and therefore I have become a decent fan of his) stomped on a player’s head while he was lying on the ground. He, along with numerous other players involved in the nasty fight, received a one-game suspension against Duke. Miami’s 3rd string could beat Duke, so the penalty had no real impact on the football program.
If you listen to the clip from the Oregon game, Kirk Herbstreit of ESPN is talking about how the NCAA is really focused on sportsmanship this season. As of this writing, I have not seen or heard any word from the NCAA on the Brandon Spikes situation, but I hope they step in and impose a much stricter suspension. If they do not, it simply suggests they are all talk in yet another matter. This type of behavior has no place in college football and players need to realize there are consequences to their actions. Missing a half of play against a 2-7 Vanderbilt team is not a punishment, it’s a joke.
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