Back in October, Shane Matthews openly criticized the offensive game plan Florida employed against Ole Miss during the 31-20 loss (you know, the game that led to TGCPE‘s speechifying). Actually, openly criticized is harsh. He questioned the play calling and the lack of aggression against Ole Miss in his radio show afterward.
“If [the offense isn’t] attacking the weakness of that defense it drives me crazy, that’s what set me off early in the season,” Matthews said, according to the report. “I am a supporter of this program no matter what, but I’m going to give my opinion when things go wrong. When things go well, I state that as well, but a lot of people don’t hear that.”
Hey, that’s fair. I actually thought exactly the same thing back in October when I was watching that game. If I see it, I am guessing anyone who actually played for the program sees it and is upset over it. Urban Meyer wasn’t amused, basically saying anyone criticizing the program is persona non grata with the Gators now.
“If you want to be critical of a player on our team or a coach on our team you can buy a ticket for seat 37F, you’re not welcome back in the football office.”
Wow. Tough words from someone who isn’t actually a Gator. Yeah, I said it. I’m not the only one. Former Miami Hurricane and current radio personality Dan Sileo had a different take:
“Shane, because he bled and sweat for the Gators, has a right to say whatever he wants about the program. Urban Meyer’s not a Gator. He’s a caretaker of the Gator program. Most times these coaches think they’re the programs, but really, the program is the players. That’s the problem I have with coaches whose egos get too big for their britches. If Urban doesn’t like it, that’s too bad.”
I guess that’s two people not getting an invite to the football office in Gainesville anytime soon.
While I hold no great affinity for Shane Matthews (in fact, I really can’t stand him), Urban Meyer’s reaction puts me in a tough position regarding my feelings toward Matthews. I feel….empathy? No, I actually want to defend him. Yeah, that’s it. Carl Rove might not have coined the “your either with us or against us,” but he helped perfect it with the way the political aspects of the Republican party handled the start of the war on terror. Meyer has simply taken a page out of that book:
“You’re either a Gator or you’re not a Gator.”
While I might not like it if Buck Belue or another commentator openly has issues with play calling, I certainly think as a broadcaster, you should feel free to express those views. I don’t have to agree. I don’t think you should be uninvited if you are making a legitimate observation. Hey, that is just how I am.
I am pretty sure Shane Matthews was a Gator when Meyer was a Colorado State Ram (or Illinois State Redbird or Ohio State Buckeye, but definitely before he was a Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Bowling Green Falcon or Utah Ute). For a guy that is a head football coach, he sure can’t take much heat. I wonder what he will think when Allen Pinkett expresses his dismay with a play when Jimmy Clausen throws into triple coverage in 2010 against Michigan?
I am guessing Senator Blutarsky will have a field day with this.