FOOTBALL: Interview with Casey Griffith

Robbie Andreau, a reporter with the Gainesville Sun, interviewed Casey Griffith last week regarding the fraternity situation with Coach Zook. Casey agreed to the interview in an effort to set the record straight since he was there from beginning to end. Here's the complete, unedited transcript from the interview:

Statement from Casey Griffith:

I got there right as everybody was showing up and it was just guys walking over there. There were enough seniors there that knew something might go on that went over to try and keep everybody cool. Nothing was happening. We kept everyone from going in the house and doing something stupid. There were a lot of younger guys that did it (walked over first). I guess it was a show of solidarity, a show of force, whatever you want to call it. I think they just wanted to show they were still pretty upset that a couple of their guys had gotten jumped.

We go over there and we talk to all our guys. Probably between 10 and 15 and there weren't any fraternity guys there. You could see they were looking out the window and stuff, but nobody came out. A member of the UAA staff (Mike Spiegler) comes up and told us he'd been notified by the police department there might be something because apparently the fraternity called the police. Well, he shows up and within a couple of minutes, Zook shows up. Coach Zook showed up with nothing on his mind other than getting us all back over to the dorm.

That's immediately what he started doing. He's like "Come on guys; let's get over to the dorm." Then the fraternity guys started to come out. At first, they were like, "Coach, Coach, can we talk to you about what happened last night?" He said, "I don't want to hear your side of the story, I've heard my guys' side of this story and we're not going to talk about it."

They didn't get their way and some of the fraternity guys got a little snippy. They started mouthing off and being pretty rude. Coach Zook is an adult and you've got to treat him with respect. Those guys weren't doing that. But, Coach Zook did not threaten them; he did not verbally or physically assault any of them. His one main goal was to make sure all of our guys stayed out of trouble and everyone got back to the dorm.

The thing that really bothers me about the report and things now… the Asst. Dean of Greeks didn't show up until the very end. Because, I know who that guy is. I've met him before and I have talked to him before. I've read his police report and the police report shouldn't be out because the investigation is still pending. The person who released the report is the Pike House. They kind of snuck it out. They're being sketchy about it. We're handling everything up front.

In his version, he says he was there and tried to handle the incident and Coach Zook was in confrontation. No. Everybody was walking away, the fraternity guys were finally going back up to their house. He shows up and tries to make a scene. "What's going on here?" He comes up and makes a big deal. This has all taken about 10 minutes, then the police department shows up. Weird that a UAA member and Coach Zook before the police can get there and the police were called. I can't really criticize them.

The only thing I can criticize them about is the way they put a statement of mine. I did not say that. It is completely inaccurate. We'd gone back over to the dorm. My scooter was parked in front of the dorm. I went back to talk to the police officer to make sure coach was there, the seniors were there, and we were keeping everyone away. They're talking and they say "Coach is pretty upset." I was like, "Yeah, coach is a little upset. He's allowed to be upset, he's doing the right thing by sticking up for his players, but he's also making sure we stayed out of trouble." That's why we came here. They made a couple of comments that, "he's like anybody else, he can be arrested." I was like, "he didn't do anything to get arrested." He came over here, and I guarantee that situation could have been a lot more volatile had Coach Zook not been there. He probably did more to save that fraternity than any of these guys that were standing outside.

But, the cops, when I was talking to them, related to them about how Coach Zook had talked to us earlier about how 20 years ago you could have taken the whole team down there and handled it right then. But, this isn't 20 years ago guys, we are under the microscope, we've got to be gentlemen. We've got to be straight and narrow and can't do anything wrong. I don't want anyone going over there. Now, apparently the police took that to mean that coach was going to cancel practice, show up at dinner and we were all going to take it to the fraternity house. That was the furthest thing from coach's mind. That was Tennessee week. The only thing on coach's mind was playing Tennessee and winning. He went over there to probably keep 15-20 guys from being suspended. He told everybody not to go, and you know what, I don't know what the main intention of going over there was, but nothing happened. I think because there were a couple of key seniors over there and Coach Zook was there.

It is really bothering me now that the fraternity is doing a smear campaign. Think it is completely reprehensible, everything they have done in this situation. They're attacking the coach. I'm Greek (Kappa Alpha), and I think it is a bad portrayal of the Greek system. They're making the Greeks look bad, they're making the student population look bad and they're making the university of Florida football team look bad, which really pisses m off. Football players always get portrayed as the mean guys, we were the victims in the beginning, we shouldn't have come over there, but nothing happened. Everything was taken care of.

Coach handled it like you would hope a father figure would. He did a very good job and I'll stand by him no matter what. I'm kind of tired of all these people attacking him. It really bothers me. He may have (dropped the F bomb). I know the fraternity guys were letting loose with a lot worse than F bombs. They were walking away saying this is f'n ridiculous, you coming to our f'n house, you shouldn't f'n try us. They were trying to be like they're hard guys. These are tiny little guys that all of a sudden want to get up some guts and want to talk smack to the head football coach because he is right there.

After he told them he didn't want to talk to them. I just don't understand. He was way more restrained than I would have been. He let them know where he stood and how he felt about the situation. He told them that what they did as wrong, he made sure they knew that. He said he was going to do what he could to make sure justice was done. But, he didn't threaten them, he handled it just like you would want your head coach to. He was over there to make sure we weren't in any trouble. He showed up to stop it. He kept a lot of people from getting in trouble, and probably a lot of people from getting hurt. He showed a lot more class than that fraternity did.

My sworn statement is completely different than what the responding officer wrote. Coach Zook was not going to cancel a practice the week of the Tennessee game, that's just ridiculous.

They verbally attacked the parents in the parents section at the LSU game. They verbally assaulted them and threatened them. They were in the block right next to the parents and kept yelling stuff at the parents. It got bad enough that the police were called a couple of times. My parents were right there, right in the middle of it all. You don't attack people's parents. Our parents handled themselves with a lot more class than those fraternity guys.

The Dean didn't even know who Coach Zook was. We were done. Everybody was going back. Coach Zook had diffused the situation. Coach Zook saved them and the football team from a huge debacle.

Thanks to Robbie Andreau for providing the transcript.

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