tampabay.com

Shock lingers at funeral for slain Hurricane

Compiled from Times staff, wires
Published November 15, 2006


MIAMI - Many wore the school colors of orange, white and green. Others filed into church wearing T-shirts with Bryan Pata's name and the words "In loving memory." Some solemnly stared at the framed jersey hoisted over his casket.

About 1,000 people packed the funeral of the Miami defensive lineman Tuesday, a week after he was shot and killed outside his apartment complex.

"I never got to tell him," said Miami defensive lineman Dwayne Hendricks, who was also Pata's roommate. "But as a teammate, a brother and a role model, I love you, man. I'll miss you, dog."

Pata, a 22-year-old senior, was shot Nov. 7 outside the off-campus apartment complex where he lived. His death rocked the community and a team already facing adversity, including a wild onfield brawl, a string of losses and rumors that coach Larry Coker's job is in jeopardy. No arrests have been made.

Two lines of more than 100 players and students walked past photo montages of Pata and a dozen floral arrangements. Some wore buttons with Pata's picture, one carried a jersey with his name. They said nothing, their heads hung low, eyes guarded by sunglasses. A few hugged and family members cried openly while a woman sang Amazing Grace.

Edwin Pierre-Pata said his brother, the youngest of nine, was always the "special" one who played football more for his family than himself.

"He worked so hard to get to where he was at," said Pierre-Pata, a senior walk-on player at Florida State. "It just doesn't seem fair for it to end that way."

Paterno on sideline, might coach Saturday

STATE COLLEGE - The rolled-up khakis, the thick-rimmed glasses, the nasally voice: The familiar sights and sounds of Joe Paterno returned briefly on Tuesday to Penn State.

More than a week after surgery on his left leg, the head coach, 79, felt well enough to come to practice and might be back in a Beaver Stadium press box for Saturday's regular-season finale, defensive coordinator Tom Bradley said.

"We're assuming that's where he'll be, but you never know where he might end up," Bradley said with a sly grin. "I wouldn't be surprised if he's on the 50, okay? Somehow, some way."

SPURRIER CONTRITE: South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier has apologized to Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive for critical comments about the league's officials.

Spurrier was reprimanded by Slive on Monday for violating league rules against criticizing referees.

"Some of them I shouldn't have said, I really shouldn't have," he said. "I guess I've got to learn that anytime I talk it can be repeated."

USF soccer star planning to go pro

TAMPA - Junior forward Rodrigo Hidalgo, USF's top scorer the past three seasons, will not return for his senior year, signing with an agent with plans to play professionally, either in MLS or abroad.

Hidalgo, who is on the U.S. national under-20 team, is working out this week in Norway for Aalesund FK with USF senior Kareem Smith. Hidalgo tied for the team lead with six goals this season, giving him 19 in his Bulls career. Both players signed with former Tampa Bay Rowdies star Farrukh Quraishi.

"It's tough going from the college environment to a professional one," Hidalgo told soccer site yanks-abroad.com. "I just hope everything works out because I am really enjoying myself here."

USF coach George Kiefer said though he's disappointed to lose Hidalgo, he recognizes that the talented 19-year-old has a future in professional career.

"I would have liked to see him graduate, but I think he has a good opportunity," Kiefer said. "I give him a lot of credit for what he's helped us do here, and I wish him well."

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Ashley Armstrong scored 28 as host Seminole Community College beat St. Petersburg College 85-39.

SOFTBALL: Pitcher Capri Catalano of North Brunswick, N.J., the Star-Ledger 2006 player of the year, signed a national letter of intent with USF.

Times staff writer Greg Auman contributed to this report.