Lamar Thomas Interview -- Part 3

Lamar Thomas is one of the best receivers in University of Miami history. In an exclusive interview with CanesTime, he talks about the FIU incident, the play involving George Teague in the 1993 Sugar Bowl, the wide receiver history at Miami, the Larry Coker era, and much more in this part. Read on...

The media took off with that statement vs. FIU.

Oh yes, they did, but forget about me. They really portrayed Miami in a bad light. They've been doing it for years, but they also know that we sell. People are going to watch when it's about the University of Miami.

But you said those things and they were wrong, right?

Let me tell you something. For the record, I'm not saying that the fight was right or anything else. I didn't say those comments during the fight. I said it near five or ten minutes later while Miami was huddling up and jumping around trying to pump themselves up during the game. I liked what I was seeing from them because it showed that they were focused on getting back into the game and forgetting it. You don't come into our house and dictate a game like that. Our guys looked focused and ending up putting three more touchdowns on the scoreboard after the incident. But some of those networks, they put my sound over the fight and put that huddle in there (even though both teams were huddling) to make it seem like I was encouraging them to fight and talking about going down there to join in a fight. That's simply not the case. The game was tape delayed. When I made the comments, both teams had been separated. I meant the last part about going down and joining in as a joke. Both my fellow commentators were laughing. They all knew it wasn't serious. Those networks put it out over the actual fight though. When you put my words over kids swinging helmets and getting hit, it makes me look a lot worse. The most important thing I felt is that those kids got a raw deal because they made a mistake. Maybe I should have been more tactful, but America is built on second chances. Look at Brandon Meriweather. I've spoken to him several times and he's a great kid. Unfortunately, some networks tried tarnishing his name even through the NFL draft. A couple kids got their scholarships taken and that is unfortunate. I've asked to put out my side of the story but of course they aren't going to put it out because it's not advantageous to them. Regardless of what they did, I still rep the U. I was hired by Comcast for my knowledge of the University of Miami and my passion for the University of Miami, and that's also why I was fired, because of my passion. If I'm fired for that, I'll take it.

You know what's funny? I love that school and it's always been good to me, but I'm a little disappointed. What I wanted when I was there was for people to associate me with greatness. I pride myself on that. I want them to think of a guy who just loved football and played it with a passion. Unfortunately for me, in my last game at the University of Miami, I suffered a setback. That's all people remember. They don't remember 144 catches; they remember the strip [Referring to the 1993 Sugar Bowl George Teague strip]. I prided myself on being a perfectionist. I wanted to be known as the greatest wide receiver ever to play at the University of Miami. Unfortunately, I had the Sugar Bowl. That's all those people remember. People only remember the negatives, not the positives. One day I wanted to be involved into the Miami Hall of Fame. I don't know if it will happen though, because of these two negative things (Sugar Bowl and FIU brawl).

I'm not sure those things will keep you out of the Hall of Fame. You were Miami's all-time leading receiver for quite a while before Reggie [Wayne] passed you.

I think those guys all passed me. It's funny, I remember when Reggie was a junior and I knew he was going to pass me, I tried to get him to come out early (laughs). I said, ‘Reggie, you're ready man, you need to think about coming out early!' Those guys were lucky man, back in the day there was no way you could catch 60 balls as a freshman. I don't care who you were. Then they started counting the bowl games for statistics, I have no chance. I think it was versus West Virginia in 2000 when he broke my record. I still had a letter and picture from Michael that said, ‘Records are made to be broken, if you ever forget what a great receiver looks like, look at my picture'. I sent Reggie something similar to that, but it's true. Records are meant to be broken. You don't break a record thinking that it'll never be broken, you break the record thinking, ‘I can't wait to meet the guy who is going to break my record'. I wanted to break Mike's record, and that was my goal. Once Reggie got close, he wanted to do the same thing. I was happy for the guy. I just knew that he was going to be good. He and Andre [Johnson]. These guys will go down in history as the greatest.

Let me ask you then, and give me a straight answer. Who is the best receiver ever to play at Miami?

(Pauses). I have to go with Eddie [Brown]. I like Eddie, and I like Mike [Irvin]. Eddie started it though. I really enjoyed watching Santana play. I liked watching Wesley Carroll play. All those guys are good but I have to go with Eddie Brown. Stanley Shakespeare, those guys, they started it all. Mike, Blades, Perriman, they followed. Then you have guys like myself, Wesley, Dawkins, then you get later on, it was just a great tradition. I wish that Lance and those guys would put it together this year and understand it. I think with Randy and those guys coaching now, they'll understand it.

Let's move onto the present. Present day Miami, after the '01 championship, had a consistently worse record each year until Coach Coker got fired last year. What do you think led to his downfall.

Larry just got caught up in his own success. He got fired because he had too much success too early. It's unfortunate. I like Larry. Larry and Dennis Erickson are college football coaches. I love those guys. They are what college football is all about. Their door was open. JJ was not a college football coach. He was a pro coach. He ran a professional outfit. He was just not a college coach. Dennis and Larry, those are college coaches. When you send your kids off to school, you want them to play under a coach whose door is always open. From what I heard about Larry, the kids could always talk to him. Things happen in a city like Miami. You always want a guy who will be there to talk to and help you through certain situations. Those kids are adults and they are in a city that's faster than anything they've ever seen in their entire lives. There is nothing in Coral Gables, so they're going to go off campus. As a parent, you have to be comfortable with the coaches. I thought that Larry and the people that he had under him were great. I would have sent my kid to play for Larry. His success early on killed him.

Some would say that there was a discipline problem, and others say that there was a lack of accountability. Were either a problem?

Let me explain something to you. When I was there, we might have had a bad boy or two on the team, there were some things that went down. We took it upon ourselves to stay disciplined. If we knew that we had a big game coming up, we knew we weren't going out to get in any bar fights. We were going to stay in our dorms, we were going to stay together, and we were going to win our game that week. We understood the importance of being a team. I blame a lot of it on the players, not the coaches. The coach can't watch those kids 24/7. Your teammates have to be the ones to say, ‘man, I don't think that's smart. We have practice at 7 in the morning. I don't think we should go to South Beach tonight'. That was the difference. We'd have a scrimmage on Saturday morning, and everyone was in their dorm sleeping. No one was partying that night. We could go out and party the next day. They talk about discipline under Coker, but I blame the team. I blame the performance on the field on the players too. You can't go out there and expect to win just because you have a ‘U' on your helmet. If someone hits you in the mouth, you have to hit them right back. Don't take that out of context, I mean strictly in a football sense. Under Randy, they won't take it lightly. They will be Miami all the way through until there are triple zeros on the clock.

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