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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Those are nonfighting words
Miami and FIU return players who brawled last season, but promise to play nice Saturday.
By WALTER VILLA, Times Correspondent
Published September 12, 2007
CORAL GABLES - Forget last year's brawl with FIU.
That was the message Tuesday from Miami coach Randy Shannon - even if his words sometimes got comically twisted.
"FIU is doing a good job," Shannon said of Saturday's opponent, the 0-2 Golden Panthers. "They are in there fighting."
Realizing quickly that "fighting" was a poor word choice, Shannon amended his comment.
"What I meant by fighting was that FIU is in there battling," Shannon said as media members chuckled. "I want to make sure I clarify that."
Miami and FIU played each other in football for the first time last season, with the Hurricanes winning 35-0 at the Orange Bowl. But the score took a backseat to a brawl that led to the suspension of 31 players.
Ten of the 13 suspended Hurricanes are still on UM's roster, including six on the two-deep depth chart: tight end DajLeon Farr, offensive linemen Derrick Morse and Tyrone Byrd and defensive backs Carlos Armour, Bruce Johnson and Randy Phillips.
Of FIU's suspended players, 14 are back, including eight who are now starters: defensive backs Robert Mitchell, Cory Fleming and Lionell Singleton, linebackers Mike Dominguez, Mannie Wellington and Scott Bryant, fullback John Ellis and guard Alex Szima.
Of course, neither team is expecting a repeat. Both are more concerned with just getting a win. FIU has lost 14 consecutive games. Miami (1-1) is coming off a humbling 51-13 loss at Oklahoma.
Still, the brawl was a popular topic Tuesday.
UM quarterback Kyle Wright, asked about the chances of another incident, said flatly: "It's not going to happen."
UM linebacker Colin McCarthy said he and his teammates have been drilled repeatedly on how not to retaliate if an opponent tries to provoke a Hurricane.
"If there is any pushing or shoving," McCarthy said, "I'll just go back to the huddle."
That might be easier said than done in this rivalry between Miami schools separated by a 15-minute cab ride. Miami, with five national championships, is the big brother in the relationship, while FIU is relatively new on the scene, looking to make a name.
Heating up the rivalry is that so many of the players know each other from their days competing with or against each other at Florida high schools.
There are even some blood relatives in the game. UM safety Kenny Phillips and his brother, FIU linebacker Jarvis Wilson, will face each other on kickoff return/coverage units.
Shannon's son, Xavier, is FIU's starting left tackle. But don't think Shannon will take it easy on his son. He will send perhaps his best player, All-ACC defensive end Calais Campbell, against Xavier.
Shannon also will have a close tie in the coaching matchup. FIU's Mario Cristobal and Shannon - both first-year head coaches - were teammates at UM in 1988. Shannon was a senior linebacker and Cristobal was a freshman offensive lineman.
"I wish Mario the best," Shannon said. "We've talked. There are always things you can do to help each other out."
Don't count on any help Saturday in the Orange Bowl, however. Cristobal, who coached against his alma mater when he was an assistant at Rutgers, knows how hard it will be to defeat the 'Canes.
"They have a great football team with the best talent in the country," he said. "They run fast, and they hit hard. We're looking for a great game."