Originally created 12/30/00

Teams want to forget quarrel, talk football

NEW ORLEANS -- Florida and Miami want the Sugar Bowl scuffle to be forgotten.

Players and coaches from both teams said Friday they hoped to move forward and stop talking about the fight on Bourbon Street late Wednesday, the first night both teams were in town for the game.

"We've got to move on. We've got too much at stake to let this get in the way," said Miami running back James Jackson. "Those guys, they were just being young and stupid. Whatever happened, happened. But now it's time to start getting ready for the game."

Even though some Hurricanes were given their first opportunity to respond to Florida's allegations that they started the melee, few players wanted to relive what happened or try to lay blame.

"We're trying to be mature about the situation because we know we have a lot at stake and they're trying to take something away from us," said Miami offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie.

None of the players identified by witnesses as being at the scene were allowed to speak to the media Friday. That included Florida's Alex Brown, whose left eye was swollen from the fight.

Team officials said coach Steve Spurrier removed him from Florida's list of players scheduled to appear at an interview session.

"I think it's pretty much forgotten," Spurrier said. "I think both teams have plenty of motivation to play the game. Sometimes you can overmotivate. You can get too angry with that kind of stuff."

Florida defensive lineman Gerard Warren and an unidentified teammates were handcuffed, taken to the police station and questioned for about 30 minutes, but no arrests were made and police didn't file a report.

How the fight started and the number of people involved varied depending on whose version was told. An eyewitness 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. Miami coach Butch Davis described it as a "minor verbal confrontation," not knowing Florida linebacker Travis Carroll left the scene with a bloodstained shirt and Brown had a puffy eye.

Brown, Warren, Reche Caldwell, Jabar Gaffney and Andra Davis were among the Florida players involved, a witness said.

The Miami players may have included Al Blades, James Lewis, Troy Prasek, Jarvis Gray and Jim Wilson. A witness saw those players involved in a verbal argument that led to the fight.

Although McKinnie said he didn't witness the fight, he was confident of his teammates' version of what happened.

"We were the ones that were trying to walk away," McKinnie said. "They were the ones that were trying to keep on pursuing and arguing and throwing beer. We tried to walk away and our team was outnumbered. It was ridiculous.

"I'm not mad because to me if there was a brawl, I don't see anybody on our team with any battle wounds."

The fight might have added new passion to a rivalry that has been on hold since 1987 when Florida took Miami off its schedule. Few of the current players viewed this rivalry with the same seriousness as they took their annual meetings with Florida State.

That might change when the Sugar Bowl is played Tuesday night.

"I'm pretty sure it'll still be in back of people's minds," said Florida defensive tackle Derrick Chambers. "But we don't need to let that take us away from what we need to do. We came to play football. That's what we want to focus on. That's what we want to make sure we do."


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