Florida and Miami apparently couldn’t wait to resume hostilities in a rivalry that has been on hold for 13 seasons.
Gator and Hurricane players were involved in a scuffle on Bourbon Street in New Orleans late Wednesday night, the first evening both teams were in town to prepare for the Sugar Bowl.
“I guess by last night’s events, the rivalry is back, sort of to where it used to be,” Florida Coach Steve Spurrier said Thursday.
Two Gator players were handcuffed, taken to a police station and questioned for about 30 minutes, but no arrests were made and police didn’t file a report.
There were several versions on how the fight started An eyewitness account by Orlando Sentinel reporter Joe Schad said as many as 40 players were involved. A statement from police said it was between 10 and 15.
Coaches, players and police all seemed to agree the fight was minor. No disciplinary action was taken and, other than a scrape under the left eye of Florida defensive end Alex Brown, no visible injuries were noted.
“It was a bunch of trash talking, we just didn’t have the pads on,” Florida offensive lineman Kenyatta Walker said.
The fight may have rekindled a flame that seemed to go out when Florida took Miami off its schedule after the 1987 season. Few of the current players viewed this rivalry as a blood feud.
Suddenly, they may have found a new reason to get fired up.
“It’s a bitter rivalry now,” Florida linebacker Travis Carroll said. “This just heats it up a bit.”
Brown, Reche Caldwell, Gerard Warren, Jabar Gaffney and Andra Davis were among the Florida players involved, according to the Sentinel.
Reporter Brian London from WQAM radio in Miami, the flagship station for the Hurricanes, said he witnessed the verbal confrontation that led to the fight a few minutes later. London said Miami players involved in the shouting included Al Blades, James Lewis, Troy Prasek, Jarvis Gray and Jim Wilson.
“I heard it was a verbal altercation and they did what police asked them to do, which was to walk away from it,” Miami Coach Butch Davis said.
“Our players were very, very proactive in getting out of there, getting to the team hotel. I’m proud of our team.”
Warren and another Gator player, not identified by New Orleans police, were taken to the police station for questioning.
Warren declined comment.
Davis said there was no reason to discipline his players. Spurrier doesn’t plan on punishing his players unless he gets solid information that shows one of them did wrong.