Friday Fire: What Should Happen With The University of Miami Football Program?

One of the more provocative teams in sports…

By now you’ve heard about the University of Miami football scandal. It’s Friday, so I wanted to ask  your view of what went down. Luther Campbell and Dan Le Batard speak their minds on The U with me in separate archived interviews below not related to this scandal. I added these to show you just how polarizing the program has been since the early 80’s. Interesting to say the least.

During an interview with Luther Campbell in September of ’06, Uncle Luke told me the following when I asked him about his affiliation with the U:

Michael Tillery: What is the Liberty City Optimist program?

LC: Probably 30% of University of Miami football comes from our program.

Michael Tillery: How’s the University of Miami looking this year? What’s your affiliation with that top ten program?

LC: These days I have absolutely no affiliation. After all the championships we won, there started to be a lot of jealous writers. They wanted to know why Luther Campbell is on the sidelines. Why I was talking to kids. They came up with their own reasons. Saying that I was paying people. All of that stuff was lies. I kind of disassociated myself from the university. You had writers like Dan Le Batard (Miami Herald, ESPN). Through his lies about me paying the players, he became a big sports writer. He was a regular beat writer. When he broke the story about me after doing all kinds of so called investigating it made him a hero. A lot of writers across the country depend on stories like this to elevate themselves in the field. In the process they ruin a lot of innocent folk’s lives. That ain’t right. One thing about me, when a lot of stuff was going down at Miami with kids getting in trouble in all kinds of ways, I said to myself, what can I do? I became a mentor to all those kids. It just wasn’t about music. I ended up on the sideline to help these kids mentally though years that shaped them. That’s all I did. I helped the university out a lot in doing so.

Being that I was this big time rapper and entertainer, unfortunately a lot of people put their own spin on the situation. In the process, a lot of kids lost that person who would stay on them and make sure they were going to class and doing the work like they should have been doing anyway. Some became lost and it became a real sad thing. Through me becoming successful in whatever I did, I helped kids out tremendously by inspiring them. Look at Willie Williams. I could have talked to him and helped him stay in line. I’m getting off the airplane and pick up the paper and see that he was suspended? I could have prevented that. I’ve done it before. When the late Jerome Brown, Ray Lewis and Warren Sapp were there. I helped them and other players by just being a positive person in their life. To make sure they made the best of the opportunity that they had. I had a relationship with these kids. When I see Dan Le Batard on the TV talking about these kids, I can’t help but what to think about what may have been. It’s a shame and just ridiculous that I can’t even talk to these kids now. I can’t even do as much as purchase a ticket to the games. They won’t even sell me the ticket. It is what it is. Hopefully though this article people will have a different understanding of what my intentions are with kids. Let me be a man to them.

Michael Tillery: What do you think about Maurice Clarrett?

LC: See that’s what I’m saying. A lot of situations like that could be prevented. If I can catch them before they turn bad then I’ve done my job. The NCAA wants to talk to me right now because of some rumors that are falsely circulating about my contact with some players and something they heard in my audio book. It’s crazy man.

Here’s Dan Le Batard’s reply in a May of ’07 interview on the old site:

MT: Speaking of the University of Miami, when I interviewed Luther Campbell (Uncle Luke from the 2 Live Crew of Miami Hip Hop fame), he alluded to you making a name for yourself by helping to initiate the so called cleansing of Miami’s football program. What are your thoughts?

Dan Le Batard: The first thing is Luther and I are good friends. Luther and I were at a local friend of mine’s restaurant playing poker. Luther and I have become friends and he sometimes says incendiary things in the intimacy among males if you will.

At the time I wrote the stories about the University of Miami, I was not a columnist, so I couldn’t opine that I thought those kids should have been getting paid. Those kids were working for the equivalent of minimum wage given how much of themselves and the time they were giving to the program. I agreed with just about Luther’s every viewpoint. It just wasn’t my job at the time. My job was to be objective in what I was learning about the program. People who thought they weren’t doing anything wrong happened to be doing stuff that was against NCAA rules.

MT: The reason why I’m bring this up is he did have a major impact on the University of Miami’s past top tier success because of all the kids that came out of the National Youth Football League he helped create. It seemed like when he was taken away, all kinds of criminal instances and death surrounded the program.

DL: That may be a false positive that those two things coincide.

MT: True Dan, and I’m not certainly putting this all on you, but let me explain it further: Luke had a major influence on most of the kids there. There obviously was some criminal activity going on there before he graced the sidelines during games and way before he became that influential mentor there. He became a father figure to so many of the kids because of his closeness with the team. If he wasn’t shunned by the University of Miami, it might have prohibited the death of Brian Pata and some of the other criminal activity that was happening there.

DL: It’s a tricky situation because–and I agree with what you are saying, he absolutely was a father figure who helped an enormous amount of kids. High learning is big business at that level. You can’t have a Supreme Court visiting rapper any more than you can have the mother figure be a stripper.

MT: I understand the analogy Dan, but there also needs to be checks and balances for the Universities and other corporations in this country so all the blame doesn’t come down on the individual causing all the ruckus.

Some of these kids were dead broke, poor as hell…

DL: No, Mike, your right. Like I said before, he did all kinds of enormous things for kids but that is not why he was famous. It wasn’t why he wasn’t allowed on the sideline. He was allowed on the sideline because he was a famous rapper who was rapping a whole lot about sex. I’d love to have him on the sideline too. I think anyone who cares about the Miami program loves the way those teams played. We were talking about the Suns before and their entertaining style. The nation at large hated Miami’s style, but Miami? God, could it have been anything more representative of our city than the way that team played?

MT: Why wasn’t more emphasis placed on Luke’s positive affect on the program instead of Me So Horny?

DL: You tell me–I bring up Snoop because he also is affiliated with USC and has a Pop Warner program–do you think USC is more uncomfortable with Snoop’s public pot smoking or his Pop Warner league?

MT: There’s a huge difference in Snoop and Luther Campbell because Luke has a history with working with kids and has set a precedent. What is it almost 30% of the kids in his league end up playing for the University of Miami? That’s a huge number. So Miami wants his kids but not the specter of Luther Campbell?

DL: He definitely puts out kids to the program. Why do I think that hasn’t gotten more attention? Because he’s Luther Campbell. His fame has a stain on it that won’t come out. I’m certainly not saying he doesn’t deserve more credit for the good things that he does because that is certainly a justifiable media criticism. We tend to obsess on the smallish negative thing while missing positive things around it.

I like Luke. I admire Luke. He does an enormous amount of giving for the people of his community. But he’s still Luke! It’s like if anyone infamous were to do a lot of work, it’s hard to get past the infamy.

MT: Look at it this way Dan. Some corporations are about the bottom line period and are set up to hide the infamy. Their impact on society isn’t seen as a negative. It’s more about adding something respectable to the community. I’m speaking specifically about their business dealings and how they handle themselves structurally. Those things are never reported on en masse like it is with a guy like Luther Campbell. I’m not going to sit here and say that some of Luke’s music and past behavior isn’t insidious, because that’s all noted obviously. Corporate influences on this nation needs to be checked. Most of these schools have ridiculously negative graduation rates–basically telling the kids that we’ll give you a BS education and then get the hell out.

Because of certain events happening in this country, corporations should not be able to hide behind consumers. We have to call them out as a society too. It gets so old calling out individuals when so much other crime is happening across the board. From dumping to pumping out bullcrap Hip Hop Pop–which is not true Hip Hop in my eyes. Miami should have been called out…

DL: They were. They were put on probation.

MT: Yes they were. They also continue to reap the benefits of Luke’s influence even if he isn’t allowed to watch the game from the nose bleed seats. Miami has been placed under heavy scrutiny lately. The same should be said for every other school, corporate sponsor, booster, parent, administrator, politician or anyone else that lets negative behavior happen in this society and then cowardly points the finger.

DL: I know what you are saying. The corporations that you allude to are profiting from the criticism of the athlete–or the Hip Hop stars. They’ll endure what little pounding they’ll get in exchange for the reward. It ends up being a risk free proposition for the authority figure. It’s interesting to me in general–and we do this all the time in sports–how we side with the authority figure. It drives me crazy in sports how we do it with the coaches. Bill Parcells is some kind of motivational genius because he refers to Terry Glenn as she? What kind of boss behavior is that?

9 Responses to “Friday Fire: What Should Happen With The University of Miami Football Program?”

  1. Miranda says:

    I don’t know what should happen…but I must share Unca Luke’s take on the snitichin dude!

  2. You all catch everything I don’t link to. Thank you Miranda!

  3. I’d read that link sometime yesterday. Great piece of journalism. Thanks for posting it.

  4. t friend says:

    I do find it ironic there are no pictures with the 12 current players named in the Shapiro investigation. I think they may have heed Shannon’s advice about Shapiro somewhat. Yet, the players who are at other schools like Robert Marve are already cleared by the NCAA. I think because its Miami the media wants to bring the hammer harder. They hate the Hurricanes. If you ever want to read a good book pick up Cane Mutiny by Bruce Feldman, which does a good backstory on the Miami football dynasty. No other university can claim 5 national championships since the 1980s.

  5. RBD I respect you man but don’t come with a TBL link…

  6. eric daniels says:

    Since I am a big fan of Miami Football, I don’t think the death penalty will be imposed even though some Notre Dame fans and others will want to teach them a lesson though they are just as dirty. College Football is nothing but a racket with the althletes getting nothing but sweat while the schools and NCAA making tons of cash while imposing a phony ametuerism. Those rules are old and have no weight in a modern society where the university promotes the Jersey of these players to massive profits while the student has to live on food stamps or worse.

  7. RBD says:

    And one more thing: Let us hope there are no more comparisons to the SMU thing, which involved institutional control of a slush fund that ran all the way to the governor’s mansion