Bennie Blades

Blades carries UM torch

NEW YORK Bennie Blades wasn't thinking about the rest of his induction class as he sat at the podium Tuesday morning flanked by Bobby Bowden and Carl Eller and Steve Emtman.

They were all going into the College Football Hall of Fame together. And, to a man, most of the 14 inductees present took turns acknowledging the rest of the group, adding how much more meaningful this honor is coming alongside these men.

It was a formality as fundamental to Tuesday's festivities as thanking the National Football Foundation and its voters. The state's college tradition was well represented, with former Florida running back Emmitt Smith and former FSU quarterback Charlie Ward joining Miami's Blades and FSU's Bowden in the induction class.

Bennie Blades on Coker and Michael Irvin

Former UM safety Bennie Blades, who will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame next year, criticized Michael Irvin for advocating a coaching change. ''We're talking about an egotistical guy who has an ego bigger than this room,'' Blades, who coaches linebackers at Stranahan High, said in a large dining hall.

'You don't make statements about firing a guy. Winning nine games a year is saying a lot. We've made the ceiling so high. When people make comments [about firing Coker, I say], `Are you frickin' nuts?'