Illinois' Ron Zook initially brushed off comments made by Florida's Urban Meyer that suggested Gator freshmen under Zook were treated as "non-people." That changed Saturday.
Zook, after having a night to sleep on Meyer's comments, issued a terse statement:
"I was surprised to see that, once again, five years later, we're blamed for something else at Florida," Zook said. "But by now I guess I shouldn't be. This one was most disappointing because it implies we didn't look out for our players. From someone who wasn't there at the time.
"I can assure you I've never, ever been accused of that. I thought I was too much of a players' coach. The implication is incorrect — there is no place for hazing in college football and we've put a stop to that if we've ever seen it.
"I applaud Florida for fostering what they say is a wonderful family atmosphere. I would invite anyone to talk to any of our players here at Illinois and, although we don't look for media opportunities to brag about it, it is a wonderful family atmosphere.''
Meyer apologized earlier for his comments, which were made after a question by Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel.
Earlier this week, Miami defensive end Adewale Ojomo had surgery for a broken jaw, an injury suffered in what Hurricane coach Randy Shannon described as "horsing around" in the locker room. Fowler, making note of that incident, wanted to know how Meyer handles locker room horseplay. Meyer then took it in another direction.
"When we first got here five years ago, they had freshmen in a separate locker room and it was a bunch of tin lockers over there and they weren't allowed to walk [into the regular locker room]. Think about this for a minute: this is a big-time college football program and we had some fights because they treat their freshman like they were non-people," Meyer said.
" 'Don't walk through here, we'll kick your tail, we'll shave your eyebrows.' It took us awhile to break that great culture we had here. That was tremendous. You don't win many games, but you beat up freshmen and shave eyebrows. Absolutely unbelievable."