Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida
The Miami-FIU game was marred by a bench-clearing brawl between the two teams in the 3rd quarter.
The main campuses of Florida International University (FIU) and the University of Miami are only nine miles (15 km) apart. FIU is a public university located in western Miami (playing at FIU Stadium), while the University of Miami is a private university in the suburb of Coral Gables (which at the time played its home games at the Miami Orange Bowl). The 2006 game was intended to be the first in the "City Line Series," an annual series between the two Miami-area schools. Miami was heavily favored over FIU, which was in its fifth season of football and in its second year in the Division I FBS.
With 9 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, Miami H-back James Bryant caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kyle Wright, making the score 13-0 Miami. After scoring, Bryant pointed towards Miami's West End zone. Bryant, who later transferred to the University of Louisville, was called forunsportsmanlike conduct.
During the ensuing PAT attempt, FIU safety Chris Smith wrestled Miami holder Matt Perelli to the ground after the kick and appeared to punch him in the chin. FIU cornerback, Marshall McDuffie, Jr., kicked Perelli in the head. Miami players, including Calais Campbell, came to Perelli's defense, separating Miami and FIU players. FIU's Lionell Singleton punched Campbell in the back of the helmet, which was quickly followed by retaliation from both teams, escalating the fight to a bench-clearing brawl. Miami's Anthony Reddick swung his helmet at FIU players and Miami's Brandon Meriweather kicked an FIU player. FIU's A'Mod Ned, who was previously injured, came onto the field and swung at Miami players with his crutches. The fight lasted less than two minutes with Florida Highway Patrol State Troopers and FIU Police coming onto the field to restore order.
Officials needed several minutes to sort out the penalties. Ultimately, 13 players were assessed 15-yard penalties for fighting and ejected from the game (eight from FIU and five from Miami). Although the unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for fighting offset each other, Miami was forced to kick off from its own 10-yard line due to the original penalty against Bryant (penalized at half the distance to the goal).
After the brawl while waiting for the game to resume the Miami team was seen huddled in a circle in the sidelines hopping up and down in what appeared to be a celebratory gesture. There were also several fights in the stands between UM and FIU fans which were stopped by local police.
“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 OB [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...I say, why don't we meet outside in the tunnel after the ball game and get it on some more? You don't come into the OB, baby. We've had a down couple of years but you don't come in here talking smack. Not in our house."
The incident won almost instant condemnation from all sides. FIU head coach Don Strock said he was "embarrassed" for what happened, and said that he would impose sanctions even more severe than any imposed by the Sun Belt Conference, the conference in which FIU played at the time. Miami head coach Larry Coker said he was "shocked and angered" by the brawl but made no promises of further sanctions.
The next day, 31 players from both schools — 18 from FIU, 13 from Miami — were handed one-game suspensions by their schools and conferences.
- For FIU: cornerback Marshall McDuffie, Jr., cornerback Chris Smith, offensive lineman Michael Alls, offensive linemen Chad Sales, linebacker Mannie Wellington, linebacker Michael Dominguez, linebacker Scott Bryant, defensive lineman Roland Clarke, fullback John Ellis, defensive back Cory Fleming, defensive lineman Reginald Jones, defensive back Robert Mitchell, linebacker Quentin Newman, defensive lineman Luis Pena, defensive end Jarvis Penerton, running back Julian Reams, defensive back Lionell Singleton, tight end Samuel Smith and wide receiver Chandler Williams
- For Miami: cornerback Carlos Armour, offensive tackle Chris Barney, H-back James Bryant, offensive tackle Tyrone Byrd, tight end DajLeon Farr, wide receiver Ryan Hill, cornerback Bruce Johnson, running back Charlie Jones, safety Brandon Meriweather, punter Brian Monroe, offensive guard Derrick Morse, cornerback Randy Phillips and safety Anthony Reddick
In both schools' cases, the suspensions were not staggered, which was unusual considering the number of players involved. The ejected players (Chris Smith, McDuffie, Singleton, Ellis, Williams, Wellington and Penerton for FIU; Morse, Barney, Jones, Armour, Johnson and Samuel Smith for Miami) already faced minimum one-game suspensions under NCAA regulations for ejections.
On Monday, Miami's coach suspended Bryant, Merriweather and Reddick indefinitely and announced that the other players would have to complete community service and sit out the next game, against Duke. Miami, which already had a history of such incidents enacted a "zero tolerance" policy for future incidents: any Hurricane involved in a fight will be suspended for the remainder of the season, and could face permanent banishment from the team. The same day, FIU kicked Chris Smith and McDuffie off the team (though they were allowed to keep their scholarships), and the remaining players were suspended from the team indefinitely. FIU also placed the suspended players on probation for the remainder of the year. In contrast, Miami presidentDonna Shalala announced that the other 12 UM players would not face additional suspensions.
Lamar Thomas was fired by CSS, and the network edited out his comments when it rebroadcast the game on October 18. Later in the day, he told ESPN Radio's Dan Patrick that he had gotten carried away in the moment.
Coker also came under fire for some of his comments after the incident. "I think that it will affect the image of our program greatly, but in a positive way," he said. "I think that when they see the video and they see how it was handled they will be impressed with our players." His handling of the incident contributed to speculation that he would not return in 2007, Shalala's vote of confidence notwithstanding.
Coker was fired at the end of the season, while Strock resigned at the end of the season. FIU ended the 2006 season 0-12 and would lose 23 straight games up to their final game of the 2007 season, a victory over North Texas.
FIU and Miami played the following season, on September 15, 2007, without incident on the field as Miami won 23-9. FIU was coached by Mario Cristobal, who was previously Miami's offensive line coach.
- No Scoring
- 1:45 MIA Legget 11 yd pass from Wright (Peattie kick)
- 9:00 MIA Bryant 5 yd pass from Wright (Peattie kick)
- 0:38 MIA Zellner 1 yd pass from Wright (Peattie kick)
- 7:27 MIA Legget 7 yd pass from Freeman (Peattie kick)
- 3:18 MIA Thomas 11 yd run (Peattie kick)