Most anyone with a pulse has heard the Miami and Florida International brawled during their game on Saturday. Both Miami and FIU had extended the ACC/Sun Belt supsensions by suspending a combined 31 players. Miami color analyst for the Comcast Sports broadcast, Lamar Thomas, who applauded the actions of Cane players during the brawl has been fired. And longtime ACC fans like myself are wondering why we invited Miami into the league considering they have done nothing noteworthy in football since arriving but have brought plenty of thuggery instead.
This is the second incident involving Miami players this season. Before the Louisville game, Hurricane players stomp on the Cardinals' logo at Papa John Stadium and the proceeded to have their respective clocks cleaned. In addition to that unfortunate behavior, we know have a brawl with FIU that quickly escalated into a free for all which included kicking individuals on the ground, swinging of helmets as weapons, and several other acts a majority of policemen in the country would have slapped handcuffs on the perpetrators had it been committed in a bar.
In light of this pattern of behavior it falls on ACC Commissioner John Swafford to deal with this in the harshest terms possible. Player suspensions are not enough. Running those cute public service annoucements during game broadcasts will echo with a hollow hypocrisy until this matter is sternly addressed. The conference must make it clear that in no uncertain terms a team engaging in this kind of behavior will not simply lose a handful of players for the next week but put at risk their bowl eligiblity and possibly the season itself. Based on the footage I saw, the whole team was on the field for both sides brawling not just 31 players. It was a team brawl and therefore the whole team must be punished. In my opinion the ACC should take the following actions.
1. The player suspensions stand as doled out by Miami.
2. The game against FIU is automatically forfeited. Miami should not receive the benefit of the win while acting like a mob.
3. Miami becomes bowl ineligible and as an extension of that is no longer eligible to participate in the ACC Championship game should they finish first in their division.
4. Miami is on probation with the ACC for an additional season meaning any further actions resembling the incident on Saturday will result in the immediate season long suspensions for all participating players.
5. Larry Coker and his entire staff should all be suspended one game and the suspensions will be staggered as to permit the requisite number of coaches be in place to coach the team during the remaining games of the season.
I tend to view matters like this with a serious eye. I always applaud commisioners like the NBA's David Stern who drops the hammer of justice down on a player crossing the line. NFL commisioner Roger Goodell exhibited excellent judgment when slapping a five game suspension on Albert Haynesworth for stomping an opposing player in the face earlier this season. Since college football is a game played by kids the punishments should be far more in-depth as to send a signal that such behavior will not be tolerated. The ACC leadership has a responsibility to protect the integrity of the games and ensure the good sportsmanship rules the day above any other pursuit, making money included in that.
So my plea to the ACC is make it count and make it painful. The money you may lose in sitting Miami out of a bowl game is not worth nearly as much as sending a message that this kind of behavior can never happen again.