Dennis Erickson, coach of third-ranked Miami, said Sunday that an atmosphere of hate contributed to a bench-clearing fight between the Hurricanes and Colorado Buffaloes at Boulder, Colo.
Erickson said he accepts blame for the brawl, which interrupted Miami's 35-29 victory over No. 13 Colorado for 11 minutes Saturday. But Erickson also faulted the Denver media for its coverage, and Bill Marolt, Colorado athletic director, for fanning emotions near the end of the first half.
"From the time we got to Colorado until the game ended, there was an atmosphere of hate," Erickson said. "Why, I don't know. We hadn't played them, and we hadn't been there in 15 years.
"None of that is an excuse."
Denver reporters wrote about Miami's reputation for fighting in pregame coverage. During the game, Marolt had an outburst over the officiating, then argued with a Miami official who asked him to leave the Hurricanes' bench area.
The fight, which involved a swarm of players punching, wrestling and kicking each other, started after a kickoff with 20 seconds left in the half and Miami leading, 21-6. Seven players from Miami and five from Colorado were ejected, including two starters for each team.
Erickson did not rule out further disciplinary action. Next week Miami plays Georgia Southern of Division I-AA.
Dave Plati, Colorado's spokesman, said: "I don't know where the climate of hate came from. I think (Miami) was scrambling to save some face."
Plati said Hurricane coaches did not know Marolt was the one arguing with the officials on their sideline until afterward.
"They're spin doctors, trying to put their spin on what happened," said Plati, who added that Colorado officials placed some of the blame for the brawl on game officials.
In an unrelated incident, Eric Bieniemy, a San Diego Charger running back and former Colorado star, was arrested for investigation of harassing a female parking lot attendant after the game.
Then, less than an hour later, one of Bieniemy's party was arrested for investigation of hitting a witness to the incident, an arrest report said. Bieniemy, 24, and Calvin Lucas Graham, 27, of Denver were taken to Boulder County Jail.
Bieniemy, a one-time La Puente Bishop Amat High star, also was named in an outstanding warrant on a charge of driving with a suspended license. He was released Saturday on $400 bond.
Graham, under investigation for intimidating a witness, was released on a personal recognizance bond.
Bieniemy also was issued a "permanent exclusion" from the Colorado campus by an officer at the jail.