Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Bully! Bully I Say!

Adopting the words of that famously robust President, economic visionary, outdoor enthusiast and recovered asthmatic Teddy Roosevelt.

Bully for Urban Meyer!

And shame, shame, a thousand times shame, on nascent National Enquirer reporter Mike Bianchi , lately of the Orlando Sentinel, for the substance free drivel of today's article.

With no facts whatsoever, he opens by alleging that Coach Meyer offered a scholarship to Carl Moore's girlfriend, Maranda Smith. He then refers to Moore's recruitment as "potentially illegal" and alleges, without any factual corroboration that, "Moore likely wasn't going to attend UF unless Smith....came to Gainesville too." He goes on to ask, "What business did Meyer have recruiting Moore's girlfriend to be a UF gymnast;" again, without factual citation.

The termite ridden pillars beneath Bianchi's toxic platform wobble without even supporting references to a "confidential source." Bianchi knows that Meyer and UF are legally precluded from challenging these opinions cloaked as fact, and that he will scamper off with plum daily ratings; as measured by internet page hits.

The only thing Bianchi does correctly is quote the NCAA regulations about recruiting athletes in other sports and limitations on telephonic contact during the recruiting dead period.

Analyzed critically, his allegations wilt.

First, the Gymnastics team has 12 members on the active roster and the NCAA has a limitation of 6 scholarships. Scholarships are precious commodities in "minor" sports; no money is willingly thrown away, especially especially on the No. 1 ranked team in the nation. Anyone who thinks Ronda Faehn is going to demoralize her team and jeopardize her chance for an SEC and National title against Georgia is nuts. On a 12 person team, you can't hide that anhinga amongst the swans. Egos would be bruised and an internal political brouhaha would ensue.

Second, Smith is good AND able to compete immediately. In 2005 she tied with current Gator All-American and star Amanda Castillo as the floor exercise co-national champion. In that meet, Smith was 11th all around and was 9th on beam. So, that makes her a top event contender and solid all-around contender as she completed high school. Essentially, she was a 4-star recruit. Injured early in her freshman year after posting some solid performances, Smith had a rod surgically implanted in her leg. Eventually, she left UCLA,enrolling in junior college with Moore. As a result, she is able to compete immediately. It is worth pointing out that in the meet against then No. 2 UGA, she scored as one of 5 "event" participants, posting a 9.725 on the uneven parallel bars.

Third, Meyer doesn't make Faehn's scholarship decisions. What does Faehn care if Moore comes to UF? Gymnastics is an elite program and has been since the days of Elfi Schlegel and Earnestine Weaver in the early 1980's. The current team is loaded with All-Americans and came into the season ranked No. 1. Why would Faehn risk this history? Why would Faehn risk a national championship run? There's no incentive, no upside while the downside is huge and might well cost her a job.

What did Meyer do? The same thing as any prudent coach. He called anyone and everyone close to Moore. He does that with all recruits....just like all the other coaches. It's not against the rules, it's a necessity. Isn't that part of the Bowden Method, sell the families? Upon finding out Smith was an elite level gymnast I'm sure he discussed it. But there's a big difference between talking about Smith being a gymnast at Florida and recruiting her.

Returning to the rebuttal of Bianchi.

Fourth, Bianchi's factually dead wrong. Moore always wanted to attend Florida while Smith was interested in Arizona. This was published on January 16, 2008, in an article by Brandon Zimmerman of the Gainesville Sun. It is worth noting that the Sun article was written long before there was an issue, so Smith had no incentive to lie....unless you think Meyer told her he wasn't allowed to recruit her while he was recruiting her and brought her into the conspiracy, otherwise how would she know such a thing was an NCAA rule violation? In the article, Smith describes Moore as, "set on UF." It's clear from the article that Meyer encouraged her to join the gymnastics team. But there is no evidence that he offered her a scholarship or suggested that one would be offered. In fact, Smith states that SHE eventually contacted Faehn, who dispatched an assistant coach to watch her practice in California and then offered a scholarship.

What does this sound like? It sounds like Meyer encouraged a talented athlete at a post-injury career crossroads to press forward. But Meyer didn't make her practice or re-develop her skills to the level that she was able to impress the assistant, Coach Faehn or bring her to a level where she was ready to compete against our arch-nemesis within 2 weeks of enrolling at UF.

So, I say Bully! Bully for Urban Meyer! He got a great football recruit and persuaded a talented athlete not to give up her career, something she may well have regretted in 20 years.

And Bianchi? He can kiss my Rosie Red Ray Hole!


mlmintampa said...

Bianchi sucks. Oh, and I'm pretty sure Zimmerman is a UGA grad, unless the red and black 'block G' he had as a car vanity plate was his wife's.

Kevin G. Bennett said...

Zimmerman's article I did not read as critical.

jj gator said...

Mike Bianchi's a Gator alum but as far as I'm concerned is just as much a piece of shit as his buddy Ron Zook; this was the same bozo who labeled FRZ a bunch of "message board miscreants" following the Zook firing. His so-called "jouralism" leaves a lot to be desired as does his fellow "reporter" at the Orlando Slantinel, Andrea Adelson. WTF is their point? Are they that stupid in thinking that other readers who can read between the lines see right through their motive to piss people off? SHEESH!

Urban Meyer is well aware of NCAA rules regarding recruiting and wouldn't deliberately violate the rules just for the sake of gaining a committment. He did the right thing in addressing the issue with UF authorities instead of ignoring it, so that tells you that he has his ducks in a row and the best interests of all parties in mind.

Bianchi's making a mountain out of a molehill, but yes, Gator Nation, I'm preaching to the choir in saying that.

Mikey: Screw you and the horse you rode in on, too. You're a troublemaker, plain and simple. If the Slantinel wasn't as pro-FSU as they are, you'd likely get fired from that job just as you were from a gig you held in Jacksonville.

Enough of my rant. It's only a minor violation, and Meyer will likely be cautioned about his conduct with recruits - nothing more, nothing less.

Anonymous said...

In all fairness, Bianchi takes FSU to task on a regular basis. His bias is not to a school at all - but to the general "stirring of the pot" that produces his ratings(page hits).

jj gator said...

Bianchi's a first-class jackass; we can pretty much all agree on that.

All of y'all should check out an article in the Independent Florida Alligator online; apparently Maranda Smith (Carl Moore's girlfriend)is now denying having spoken to Meyer as frequently as had been alleged. If that's indeed the case, Smith only hurt her reputation and has also made Moore look silly - that or the media, once again, gets left with egg on their face.

Anonymous said...

You know, I used to enjoy reading Bianchi's stuff years ago when he was still a journalist and not trying to be a "personality" like now.

Point was really driven home last fall when I saw him on a Sun sports college football show and I was just repulsed by his whole act.

While the other journalists communicated their thoughts in even, well spoken (more or less) terms, Mike insisted on taking extreme positions on every topic, shouting his responses and rolling and bugging his eyes at anything else that was said contrary to his opinions, and generally behaving like a desperate attention whore.

I thought maybe he was having a bad week, and there was some meaningful discussion on the show, so I tuned in the next week only to be subjected to more of the same crap.

That was the last time I watched and/or read anything from this poor, poor man.

jj gator said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jj gator said...

Not to be accused of Zook-bashing, but I'll bet if Zook was still here and did the same thing the media would have looked the other way. Seems that just because Meyer is enjoying the degree of success that he is right now, the jealousy is running rampant and the least little negative press involving him will be overexaggerated.

Zook and Mike Locksley committed recruiting infractions while they were at UF - why no uproar over THAT?

Anonymous said...

The recruiting of this California junior college kid Carl Moore makes for a good story. He must be one good WR for Meyer to have gone after him with all this attention. Now they're digging up this old news about Meyer handing Tebow the phone to help recruit Moore after the Heisman award ceremony saying it violated a rule Amazing the twists and turns in this recruiting business, now with the pressure of these big salaries coaches seem more desperate in the chase for wins. I know, these are different times and the game is changing but that doesn't necessarily mean for the better.

jj gator said...

I highly doubt there's any one coach who hasn't broken one of the NCAA rules regarding recruiting in one way or another. It's only a minor violation on Meyer's part, but the media is blowing this thing way out of proportion with the intent to discredit Meyer. Had it been Zook I guarantee you the media wouldn't have given a rat's ass, given the fact that he's portrayed as a martyr and his firing at UF is spun into a sob story.

Screw that obnoxious jerk Mike Bianchi, screw Gator-haters one and all, and screw the media in general. If anything, this whole episode should serve as a heads-up to Meyer to be on his guard when interacting with recruits, especially knowing there are all these "watchdogs" out there ready to lower the boom at merely the slightest hint of an infraction.

Anonymous said...

"So, I say Bully! Bully for Urban Meyer! He got a great football recruit and persuaded a talented athlete not to give up her career, something she may well have regretted in 20 years."

Give up the sport? Huh? She'd already rehabbed sufficiently to rate a scholarship offer from the University of Arizona. She was coming back to the sport. Meyer had nothing to do with that.

Anonymous said...

Lately I've been reading random commentary from others, as well as some rival fans blowing smack out both sides of their asses, accusing Meyer of dirty recruiting tactics - not only concerning Carl Moore, but also Patrick Johnson, Terrance Tolliver and Darrell Stonum - and I laugh out loud at how they're accusing Meyer of lying and that UF is facing NCAA sanctions. I call BULLSHIT!!!!

As far as PJ and Tolliver are concerned, they didn't qualify academically - why the sour grapes and false inuuendo being thrown at Meyer? For them to commit to UF only to not pass the NCAA Clearinghouse would be a lesson in futility for UF, and why waste scholarships like that? I wouldn't call that lying on Meyer's part - he's only exercising common sense. For Chrissake, Tolliver has been classified as functionally illiterate - he should be enrolled in remedial school instead of trying to get into college. SHEESH!

If anybody could be a "liar", it's Stonum. That, he has some grudge against UF, or was instructed by Michigan to bad-mouth UF - who the hell knows. Whth the way the media puts their own spin on stories it's hard to tell what's fact and what's fiction nowadays.

And then on top of that, I've read other silly crap that Meyer didn't keep it clean at Bowling Green and Utah - again, BULLSHIT. Can you blame anybody for making career moves to advance themselves further? Jesus, this guy can't seem to catch a break from anybody!

If others are jealous of the success UF's experiencing lately, TOUGH. Let those schools raise the bar and reach our level - and THEN they can talk. Until then, to hell with them.

Like Steve Spurrier once said, "If they hate you, you must be doing something right".

It's all water off a duck's back, and Meyer will get the last laugh should we bring in another top-ranked class next week.


Kevin G. Bennett said...

"sour grapes and false innuendo"

Aren't they the ambrosia and mead of recruiting?

Anonymous said...

Robbie Andreu diffused all the scuttlebutt about PJ with what really happened; if I could link the article here I would, but it can be read at

Kevin G. Bennett said...

I'll take a look at the article.

Anonymous said...

It's in his blog section entitled "Don't be a punk".

Anonymous said...

Saw on the ESPN wire last night and elsewher this morning that the NCAA saw that Meyer did nothing wrong; just as I thought - all the uproar was over nothing.

Bianchi has a blog now at the "Slantinel"; every good Gator fan ought to tell him to take all his drivel and shove it straight up his ass. That goes for all the other Gator-hating rivals too - they know where they can stick all their smack!

Gator Country had an article that I had read called "Urban Meyer - Man of Integrity"; somebody had interviewed Alex Smith and he thought all these allegations against Meyer were nonsense. He also stuck up for Meyer and his recruiting strategy as well.

Once again Meyer gets the last laugh in being exonerated - and I for one couldn't be happier.

GO GATORS!!!!!!!