Meyer defends Florida program

Meyer defends Florida program

COLUMBUS, Ohio — In his first speaking engagement with his Big Ten coaching peers, new Ohio State coach Urban Meyer had to defend what he did in his last coaching job.

Meyer said he was disappointed by a story this week in the Sporting News that said he showed favoritism to star players during his six-year tenure at Florida and that his Gators program winked at disciplinary problems.

"When you start saying preferential treatment to players, that's probably a correct statement. We did do that. We do that here. We did it at Bowling Green and Utah," said Meyer, mentioning his previous coaching stops while speaking Wednesday on the Big Ten coaches spring teleconference. "If you go to class, you're a warrior, you do things the right way off and on the field, and you're completely committed to helping us win, you're going to get treated really good."

Meyer bristled at the inference by former players, some identified and some not, who said there was a different set of rules for star players such as receiver Percy Harvin.

"I'm extremely proud of what we did down there. And throwing great players — not good players, great players — under the bus like that, I don't get the intent," he said. "I'll fight for those guys, man. Those guys did a lot of great things for the University of Florida. And to sit there and call them out four or five years later, I'm not sure of the intent, once again.

"But I'll always fight for those guys."

Meyer said he talked to several former Florida players and coaches who were upset by the Sporting News story.

The story cited multiple sources who confirmed that during the 2008 season Harvin, now a member of the Minnesota Vikings, physically attacked Florida receivers coach Billy Gonzales, grabbing him by the neck and throwing him to the ground. It said that after Harvin was pulled off Gonzales by two assistant coaches, he was never disciplined.

Gonzales, now an offensive coordinator at Illinois, told The News-Gazette on Tuesday the story is inaccurate.

Petrino had frequent contact. Former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino and his mistress were in frequent contact over the past six months, sometimes calling or texting each other dozens of times in a day — including game days, according to a review of his business cellphone records by The Associated Press.

Petrino was fired Tuesday night for failing to disclose his relationship with Jessica Dorrell, a 25-year-old former Razorbacks volleyball player he hired last month without disclosing his conflict of interest or the fact he once paid her $20,000. Athletic director Jeff Long said he determined their relationship had been ongoing for a "significant" amount of time, but he did not say for how long.

The cellphone records show the two were in close contact at least as far back as Sept. 12. The university provided nearly seven months of Petrino's business cellphone records.

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