Brandon Spikes, defensive lineman for the #1 AP and BCS ranked Florida Gators, eye-gouged Georgia running back Waushaun Ealey during Saturday’s game — or at least attempted to eye gouge him. Viewing the video afterward, the Brandon Spikes’ eye gouge looks to be a deliberate attempt by the massive Florida ballplayer, one meant to do some damage. Sports bloggers and journalists are outraged and calling for disciplinary action by Florida head coach Urban Meyer. Thus far, Meyer has said he will have a “very serious talk” with Brandon Spikes. Many are wondering if that “serious talk” includes a slap on the back.
Football is a rough game. People get hurt, bones get broken. There are concussions and sprains and fractures and bruises aplenty accrued simply through 60 minutes of dozens of football players hurling themselves at each in their attempts to either get an oblate spheroid across a predetermined line or stop that same action from occurring. As stated, with hundreds of pounds of human muscle and bone slamming into moving targets of hundreds of pounds of muscle and bone, people get hurt. And none of it has to be deliberate.
But Brandon Spikes, during a pile-up on the Georgia runner, reached into the football player’s facemask in an obvious and deliberate attempt to gouge the man’s eyes, a potentially incapacitating move. To make the foul move even more odious, Florida didn’t need the advantage of disabling a Georgia runner (or any other player, for that matter) through eye gouging. Brandon Spikes’ Florida Gators destroyed the Georgia Bulldogs Saturday 41-17.
And Brandon Spikes had a great day. He had 10 tackles and an interception, which he ran back for a Florida touchdown. Until researching this story, the only thing this writer remembered from the game was the interception return and hearing Spikes’ name a couple times during the broadcast (admittedly, I watched only moments of the game, listening to it while I wrote). Since the game, the only manner in which I’ve heard or read the name Brandon Spikes has been used is in disgust, chastisement, ridicule, and outrage. And his accomplishments? It is probably a safe bet that most people have no idea that Brandon Spikes returned an interception for a touchdown or that he was a defensive dynamo that helped ensure a Florida Gators victory over their arch rivals, the Georgia Bulldogs.
Instead, all his accomplishments have been erased by an act of blatant ill-conceived aggression. Brandon Spikes will be remembered forever by millions of college football fans (and anyone else who sees the video) as that dirty Florida football player that tried to gouge out that Georgia running back’s eyes.
Which is unfortunate. Because there is little doubt that Brandon Spikes will probably play professional football. Years from now, people will still be saying things like “Yeah, he’s that guy that tried to gouge out the eyes of that running back. He’s a dirty football player.”
Brandon Spikes seems to be far too good a defensive ballplayer to resort to such methods anyway, which makes the eye gouging incident even more of a shame and an inexcusable event. The maneuver shows insecurity, a lack of confidence. It also shows a brutal disregard for another human. He could have easily caused irreparable damage to Waushaun Ealey’s eyes.
But this isn’t the first time (nor will it be the last) college football fans have seen an act of unseemly aggression. The most shocking came at the end of the first game of the season between Boise State and Oregon, when running back and potential Heisman Trophy candidate LeGarrette Blount, after a dismal performance, sucker punched Byron Hout of Boisie State, then had to be corralled and herded off the field by fellow ballplayers, coaches, and security personnel as he traded words with fans, football personnel from his own team, and Boise law enforcement.
Although LaGarrette Blount later apologized for his unconscionable behavior, the video of the punch and subsequent actions by LeGarrette Blount went viral. He was suspended from playing for Oregon for the rest of the season.
It remains to be seen how “serious” of a talk Urban Meyer has with Brandon Spikes over the eye gouging incident. The video and public outcry might put some pressure on the coach to at least suspend Brandon Spikes for a game or two, but it is doubtful the reaction and disciplinary action taken will be as harsh as that of Oregon head coach Chip Kelly, which some (including this writer) believed to have been overly punitive.
But Urban Meyer, or any other college football coach in a similar situation, cannot allow the incident to go unchecked. The public understands that the game of football can lead to injuries, some of them even life-threatening, but they will not suffer an act of wanton and deliberate cruelty without some form of applied punishment for the wayward ballplayer.
“Gator Clause,” MiamiHerald.typepad.com