Before the game even started, the matchup between programs located extremely close to one another in South Florida was heated. With the University of Miami in Coral Gables just eight miles away from Florida International University, a lot of players were familiar with one another and had long histories.
Once the game began, it was obvious there was going to be an issue. A lot of trash talking took place among the teams throughout the first half and into the third quarter. That’s when things exploded.
Miami vs. FIU Fight
With nine minutes remaining in the third quarter, Miami quarterback Kyle Wright threw a touchdown pass to fullback James Bryant, extending the Hurricane lead to 13-0. Bryant received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for his celebration, which surely didn’t help the hostile atmosphere already brewing.
On the following extra point, there was pushing and shoving along the line of scrimmage as kicker Jon Peattie made the point-after try. The shoving entered into the backfield and was the true start of the brawl when Chris Smith, a defensive back from FIU, body-slammed Miami holder Matt Perrelli.
Once on the ground, Smith appeared to punch Perrelli in the chin, and then, Marshall McDuffie Jr. kicked Perrelli in the head.
The attack on Perrelli and Peattie led to offensive lineman, linebackers and wide receivers getting involved, and both sidelines cleared. Once the rest of the players from each team got involved, things escalated at an immeasurable speed.
Most Notable Incidents
There are a few points in the brawl that are remembered more than the rest, each involving Miami players.
The first action that stands out was Hurricanes safety Brandon Meriweather stomping on opposing players while they were on the ground — This is one of the most famous images from the fight.
The next is when Anthony Reddick, another Miami safety, who used his helmet as a weapon, wildly swinging it at opposing players. Personally, this is the part I remember most because using your own protective equipment to hurt others is absolutely nuts.
The third action by a Hurricane is when, in a sea of fighting players, you see a Miami player body slam an FIU player. These are the three things most people will bring up, making the “Convicts” and “Bad Boys” of college football name stick.
The two moments remembered by Panther players are the initial attack of Perrelli, and when injured Florida International player A’Mod Ned used one of his crutches as a weapon.
It took Florida State Troopers and local police to restore order when coaches and referees were unable to do so. The police also broke up fights taking place in the crowd between fans from each school.
The University of Miami football program already faced the most criticism in the country. So when their entire team is on the field, battling another team like a scene out of Game of Thrones, there were people who wanted a lot done.
In total, 13 players received penalties and were ejected from the game — Eight of them were from FIU and five from Miami. There were 31 players suspended after the game. Florida International had 18 players suspended by the Sun Belt Conference, each for a single game, and the team suspended them indefinitely. Smith and McDuffie, the initiators of the brawl, were kicked off the football team instead of receiving a suspension.
Miami had 13 players suspended following the fight. Bryant, Meriweather and Reddick were each suspended indefinitely while the rest missed the following game against Duke.
But maybe the biggest issue for the Hurricanes was the reaction by head coach Larry Coker.
“I think this will affect the image of this program, but in a very positive way,” Coker said after the game. “This won’t be a negative for the University of Miami.”Advertisement
On top of this troubling comment, a 7-6 record in 2006 led to Athletic Director Paul Dee firing Coker. Another issue faced after the fact were the comments from a former Hurricane receiver.
Don Strock, head coach of Florida International, had the correct reaction. He said he was embarrassed of the what happened.
“That never should have happened,” Strock said. “I’m embarrassed for FIU. I certainly don’t condone that.”
The incident was reported from the Associated Press to the Miami Herald and overshadowed any local Fla. news like high school sports, the MLB’s Florida Marlins (now Miami Marlins) and the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.
Miami-FIU Brawl Announcer
As the brawl took place, former Miami Hurricanes receiver Lamar Thomas was the color analyst for the game and was supporting how the players for his Alma mater were handling themselves.
Here’s what Thomas said as the fight escalated out of control, via ESPN:
“Now, that’s what I’m talking about. You come into our house, you should get your behind kicked. You don’t come into the [Orange Bowl] playing that stuff. You’re across the ocean over there. You’re across the city. You can’t come over to our place talking noise like that. You’ll get your butt beat. I was about to go down the elevator to get in that thing.”
Due to these comments, Thomas was fired by CBS. When the game was being replayed later in the week, Thomas’ comments were edited out of the footage.
This article was originally published September 11, 2019.