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Monday, October 16, 2006
Miami extends Reddick's suspension; FIU dismisses 2 news services

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- The University of Miami extended the suspension of one player and said further disciplinary measures will be taken in the wake of a sideline-clearing brawl with Florida International.

Gene Wojciechowski's take
Gene Wojciechowski
Something has to change at Miami, beginning with the punishment. Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford meant well when he initially issued a one-game suspension for all 13 UM players involved in this disaster area, but the penalty was laughable. It isn't a slap on the wrist; it's a soothing caress and manicure.

• For more of Gene Wojciechowski's analysis, click here.

More Analysis
Bill Curry's take
Bruce Feldman's take Insider

More Audio
•  TV analyst Lamar Thomas tells the Dan Patrick Show he got "caught up in the moment" during the FIU-Miami brawl and doesn't condone fighting. ListenInsider

• Mike and Mike discuss the brawl and Thomas' unbelievable comments about what was going on. Listen

• Miami alumnus Michael Irvin says Thomas should be fired for his comments during the FIU-Miami telecast -- and says the incident adds to reasons why Larry Coker should be fired. Listen Insider

• David Albright and Ivan Maisel discuss what has, what is, and what should happen to Miami and FIU after the brawl. ESPNU College Football Insider

• Joe Schad talks about the Miami-FIU fallout and addresses some of the other hot topics in college football. Listen Insider

Sophomore safety Anthony Reddick was suspended indefinitely following further consultation Monday with the Atlantic Coast Conference, the school said. Reddick charged across the field, helmet raised over his head, and slammed it into an opposing player during the melee.

Meanwhile, the Golden Panthers took a much harsher stance -- dismissing two players, Chris Smith and Marshall McDuffie Jr., and extending the suspensions of all other 16 sanctioned players indefinitely.

The 16 suspended FIU players will be placed on athletic probation for the remainder of the academic calendar year, must complete 10 hours of anger management counseling, and will undertake a community service project to educate South Florida youth on appropriate behavior as related to athletics, the Miami Herald reported on its Web site Monday.

"This is certainly embarrassing. It's disgraceful. It's amazing. I've run out of words," FIU coach Don Strock said. "There's no place for it in college football or football period. This is way overboard. I apologize to all the fans of college football for this taking place."

Smith and McDuffie will remain on scholarship at FIU.

One-game suspensions for Reddick and 12 Miami teammates were announced Sunday. Other disciplinary measures for the players may include community service and other unspecified actions, the school said in a statement.

Miami president Donna Shalala said in an open letter that the fight was "outrageous."

"Regardless of who started it, this was an embarrassing display of unsportsmanlike behavior," Shalala wrote. "Fortunately there were no injuries."

The ACC and Miami (4-2) suspended Reddick, Carlos Armour, Chris Barney, James Bryant, Tyrone Byrd, DajLeon Farr, Ryan Hill, Bruce Johnson, Charlie Jones, Brandon Meriweather, Brian Monroe, Derrick Morse and Randy Phillips.

All will miss Saturday's game at winless Duke.

"These suspensions send a clear and definitive message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated," Swofford said.

In addition to McDuffie and Chris Smith, the Sun Belt Conference and FIU (0-7) suspended Michael Alls, Scott Bryant, Roland Clark, Michael Dominquez, John Ellis, Cory Fleming, Reginald Jones, Robert Mitchell, Quintin Newman, Luis Pena, Jarvis Penerton, Julian Reams, Lionell Singleton, Samuel Smith, Mannie Wellington and Chandler Williams.

They'll miss FIU's next game Oct. 28 at Alabama.

"There is no place in higher education for the type of conduct exhibited," Sun Belt commissioner Wright Waters said.

The NCAA, in a statement released Monday, called the fight "wholly unacceptable."

"It is hoped that the actions taken by Miami, FIU and the conferences will send a message that such behavior is not tolerated," the NCAA statement said.

There were many instances of heated words being exchanged during -- and before -- the game.

But shortly after halftime, unsportsmanlike turned into unruly.

Bryant bowed to the crowd after catching a touchdown pass with 9 minutes left in the third quarter. Moments later, Chris Smith wrestled Miami holder Matt Perrelli to the ground and punched him, and McDuffie kicked Perrelli in the helmet.

"For us," FIU athletic director Pete Garcia said, "one incident is one incident too many."

Morse jumped onto the Smith-Perrelli pile, Singleton followed and tried to punch the Hurricanes' Calais Campbell -- and benches began to empty.

"It's a real embarrassment," FIU linebacker Keyonvis Bouie said, "especially for our school. ... I'm just really disgusted with our players and the way we handled the situation."

Several players from both sides appeared to throw punches. Meriweather was seen attempting to stomp on FIU players, while an injured Golden Panther swung a crutch menacingly at several Miami players.

The suspensions come at a terrible time for Miami, which has six ACC games remaining -- and probably needs five wins to even have a chance at playing for the conference title.

Yes, Miami is playing winless Duke next. But the Hurricanes will play that game without their best kick returner (Johnson), their second-best running back (Jones), two key secondary members (Meriweather and Randy Phillips), their right guard (Morse) and their punter (Monroe).

Plus, starting right tackle Jason Fox and linebacker Jon Beason were injured in Saturday's game. While Fox's availability for the Duke game isn't known, Beason is expected to miss at least three weeks with a torn ACL, ESPN's Joe Schad reports. Beason, one of Miami's best defensive players, was not injured in the brawl.

Suddenly, what could have been an easy game doesn't look so easy anymore.

Meanwhile, FIU would have been a big underdog at Alabama anyway, but now will visit the Crimson Tide without nearly half of its regular starting lineup.

"I can promise you," Strock said, "that this will never happen again."

It's the latest in a disturbing series of incidents for Miami in recent months.

• Several Miami players fought with LSU players following the Tigers' 40-3 Peach Bowl win.

• Shortly before the Miami-Louisville game Sept. 16, virtually the entire Hurricanes' roster jumped on the Cardinals logo at midfield, an act widely viewed as a taunting gesture. Afterward, some Miami players chided teammates for that incident.

• A Miami player, Willie Cooper, was shot outside his home shortly before training camp began in what players contend was a robbery attempt. Meriweather returned fire; police said he acted legally.

• Wide receiver Ryan Moore, who was suspended for the Peach Bowl for violating team rules, then suspended again for other infractions, is expected to be charged this week with misdemeanors stemming from an August fight with a woman. He hasn't played this season.

And now, perhaps, comes the worst blow.

Still, Miami coach Larry Coker -- who has been under fire all season and whose job security seems to be a constant source of speculation -- bristled when asked if he has control of his team.

"I do have a grip on this program," Coker said. "Don't ever doubt that. Don't ever doubt that."

About two dozen members of the University of Miami board of trustees met for two hours on Monday morning, spending the last 30 minutes discussing Saturday's ugly brawl with Florida International and the future of Hurricanes coach Larry Coker.

According to the trustee who attended the meeting, President Donna Shalala said: "Nobody's job is in jeopardy now."

Shalala, the trustee said, is standing by her committment to Coker, at least through this season, adding that the fight was "embarrassing" but "not cause for dismissal."

Information from The Associated Press and ESPN's Joe Schad was used in this report.