Today's practice had a media blackout likely because of the story written by the Orlando Sentinel's Jeremy Fowler regarding Deonte Thompson's preference for John Brantley over Tim Tebow. Most notably that Brantley is, "a real quarterback." Without access to players, Meyer was going to get a lot of attention today to explain why Brantley has a bruised knee, T.J. Lawrence is in the hospital and Emmanuel Moody is on crutches.
The Palm Beach Post's Ben Volin reports that Meyer opened his press time by getting, "in the face of an Orlando Sentinel reporter [Fowler] and threatened to take away his credential." Meyer followed that by saying, "If Deonte were my son, we'd be going at it right now." Fowler tweeted that Meyer called him a, "bad guy."
For Meyer to act like this is terrible. Rather than treat the situation like an adult, he airs his dirty laundry in front of everyone. This isn't Meyer defending Thompson. He's defending Tebow, who is no longer on the team. Thompson's quotes speak for themselves. What was Fowler supposed to do? Not pay attention? Did Meyer also get in the face of the Gainesville Sun's cameraman who got Thompson on video?
Coaches getting pissed at reporters is nothing new. When I covered Minor League Baseball, I had a coach chase me out of the locker room and throw a garbage can at me. (Good times!) In my case, the coach took offense that his team had just blown a five game lead and needed to take his anger out on someone. In the case of Meyer and Fowler, the reporter did his job, the subject was honest, and the coach didn't like either part.
If Meyer wants to return full time to the Gators, he can begin by treating the press like a professional and not with threats.
[Update, 03/24/10 8:32 PM EDT ] Jeremy Fowler's response, which gets points for professionalism.
"You’ll be out of practice — you understand that? — if you do that again," Meyer said. "I told you five years ago: Don’t mess with our players. Don’t do it. You did it. You do it one more time and the Orlando Sentinel’s not welcome here ever again. Is that clear? It’s yes or no." (finger pointing toward the face)
I basically told Meyer I have no problem playing by rules, but "all I was doing was quoting the guy."
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.
Below is the Gainesville Sun video which begins with Thompson. It is edited, so it is possible something groundbreaking was left out. Watch the video and you be the judge if Meyer has a right to be upset. If I'm not mistaken, Fowler is to the left with the red recorder and asks the follow up question.