Meyer Fined for "Kiffin" Rule

He tried ever so lightly not to accuse anyone of not doing a good job, yet Urban Meyer became the first SEC Coach to fall for the wrath of the SEC office in a new rule designed to keep coaches from making negative public remarks about officials. Meyer was fined $30,000 on Friday for remarks he made in a teleconference about a penalty that was not called in the game with Georgia Saturday.

Answering a question posed by The Gainesville Sun's Pat Dooley in his weekly teleconference, Florida Head Coach Urban Meyer responded about an unnecessary and late hit from Georgia's Nick Williams after a hand-off. Meyer was asked if the SEC office had responded to the fact that Florida sent in a video tape that captured the no-call.

"I'm not sure if I am allowed give you that...what they said," Meyer started. "I don't want to step out of line. Once again I have great confidence (in the officials). There should have been a penalty in my opinion and obviously it should have been. To protect quarterbacks, that is the whole purpose and it's right in front of the referee. I am not sure how they are going to handle that, but we do send it in and that is one of the plays we sent in."

Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive announced Friday that Meyer would be fined for his comments above. The fine comes on the heels of Slive trying to take control of the comments made by coaches around the conference.

Last week, the SEC adopted a new rule that allows Slive to render punishment of fines or suspensions automatically for negative comments that are directed at the officials. This following public comments from Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin that intimated the officials might not want them to win the game against Alabama and it caused him to rethink his coaching strategy to end the game where he tried for a long field goal instead of using some time and moving in closer for a shorter field goal. The low trajectory field goal try was blocked.

"You run another play and throw an interception," he said. "Or they throw another flag on us. I wasn't going to let the refs lose the game for us there ... you know, a magical flag appear."

Kiffin then was asked a day later about Alabama's Terrance Cody who threw his helmet while the ball was still apparently alive, even though he blocked it and he ball lied motionless on the field. Kiffin was incorrect in believing that there should be a penalty there but the day after quipped, "I am sure I will get one of those letters (explaining the call or missed call)..., but Florida and Bama move on."

It was certainly a reference to the conference and officiating and after these comments Slive had enough and moved forward with the new rule that was voted o0n unanimously by all 12 Presidents and Athletic Directors of the SEC schools. Slive handed down the punishment to Meyer on Friday after being the first to supposedly criticize the officiating. A fine or suspension are automatic under the new rule.

"Coach Meyer has violated the Southeastern Conference Code of Ethics," Slive said. "SEC Bylaw 10.5.4 clearly states that the coaches, players and support personnel shall refrain from public criticism of officials. The league's Athletics Directors and Presidents and Chancellors have made it clear that negative public comments on officiating are not acceptable."

Meyer , who has been very understanding and gracious with the officiating may have been trying to deflect criticism of Brandon Spikes for what has amounted to a lynch mob atmosphere for his conduct in the Georgia game on one particular moment after a tackle. Spikes will miss the game against Vanderbilt, but the media scrutiny over the foul that did not appear to hurt anyone has been huge. Instead of deflecting the the penalty from his player to the opponent, Meyer's statement was seen as a negative reference to the officials doing their job.

Meyer said he understands the ruling and never meant to criticize the officiating.

"As I stated last week, I have great respect for Commissioner Mike Slive and the Southeastern Conference and I respect this decision," Meyer said. "There was no intent to criticize an official after being asked about a situation that occurred last Saturday and I apologize for my remarks."

It is just the latest in many distractions that the Florida Gators have faced this season as they remain the number one team in the land, a spot they have held from the beginning of the season. Meyer and company face Vanderbilt on Saturday night as they return to the Swamp after three weeks away.

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