It isn't often that a lopsided football game creates controversy. But that was the case Saturday after Miami embarrassed Florida 31-7, in Gainesville.
The controversy centered on Miami Coach Howard Schnellenberger's decision to kick a field goal with one second left after the Hurricanes recovered a fumble at the Gator 18.
Schnellenberger said afterward he ordered the field goal because of a hostile crowd at Florida Field. Through the game, according to Schnellenberger and his players, fans pelted them with oranges, tangerines, ice, water and cups.
"The field goal was my little way of telling them I was not happy with their conduct," Schnellenberger said. "I didn't call for that field goal for any record or any other reason but one. I did it because of the fans. I decided we might need a little field goal practice."
Miami, which will play Virginia Tech in the Peach Bowl Jan. 2, finished its season 8-3 with its third straight victory over Florida. The Gators (7-3) finish the regular season next week against Florida State, then play Maryland Dec. 20 in the Tangerine Bowl.
Ironically, Florida and Miami open against each other next season. Many Florida players vowed they would not forget the field goal when the teams meet again. "If there is anything left to do in my life it is to run up the score on Miami," said nose guard Robin Fisher.
"I thought Schnellengberger was more professional than that," linebacker David Little said. "Now I know he doesn't have much class."
Schnellenberger said he didn't blame Florida Coach Charley Pell for the crowd's behavior -- "it isn't his job to police the crowd," -- but Pell did appear upset with Schnelenberger.
"If our fans were doing that, it was wrong," he said. "We will have to work on that. But you don't coach against the fans. You coach against the players in uniform on the field."