Commentary: Not even death stops the national media machine

The University of Miami was rocked and saddened by the news last Tuesday night that defensive end Bryan Pata was shot and killed outside his apartment in Kendall. The football team and the university community at large entered a time of mourning over the tragic loss. Disgustingly, many in the national media seemed primed to capitalize on another news story out of Coral Gables.

Every major news outlet featured the story beginning on Tuesday night – and almost every story was eager to point out that this was yet another event with criminal overtones affecting the ‘Canes. The LSU tunnel fight, Willie Cooper, Ryan Moore and the Brawl were all dragged out, trying, once again, to impugn the integrity of the Miami football program.

What the media seemed to forget was that this was not a college football story; it was the story of a man murdered in what appears to be cold blood. Instead of treating this case as it should have – the tragic loss of a beloved son, brother, teammate and friend – it was just another reason why the Hurricanes are “Thug U,” just another bullet point on the list of reasons why the football program needs to be “cleaned out.”

How dare the media try to point the finger at the university and belittle these tragic events. Their shameless attempts to once again bring down this institution are a disgrace to the profession of journalism and are insulting to the university and, more importantly, to Bryan Pata’s family.

The football team has appeared to act with incredible courage, returning to their work despite such a great loss. After an informal team vote, it was determined that the scheduled game against Maryland would be played on Saturday.

“They felt like Bryan would want to practice,” Head Coach Larry Coker said. “They felt like Bryan would want to play.”

A staggered team fighting on, keeping their lost brother in their hearts and minds. Normally such an act would bring forth words of encouragement and honor. However, that couldn’t be mustered up from the cold-hearted college football pundits, so hell bent on bringing down “The U.”

“It’s not the first time a big-time school flunked sensitivity training; it just might be the most callous,” cried Mike Wise of the Washington Post, claiming the university’s leadership disregarded emotional considerations and made the decision for financial reasons. Obviously ill-informed about the circumstances, Wise and others have once again launched an offensive against this university.

It is fully understood that this football program has suffered more than one black eye over the years; this cannot be denied. But so have many other programs all across the country. Why must the treatment of Miami be so much more heinous? And why does the tragic case of Bryan Pata have to be bastardized in order to defend these critics’ arguments? As the mourning period continues here in Coral Gables, these questions still appear to ring hollow in the media’s ears, with Bryan Pata’s heartbreaking story lost in the din.

Matthew Bunch may be contacted at

November 14, 2006


The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami

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