St. Pete Beach Bash Ends After Tempers Flare Between Teams
During a poolside dance contest between Louisville and Southern Miss football players, banter got a little too heated, prompting State Troopers to show up and the party to end early.
Events leading to the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl are supposed to be fun-filled activities for the teams, their families and fans to participate in.
The players and spectators relax before the big day and enjoy the sights and surroundings that come with being invited to a bowl game.
Try telling that to the players from Louisville and Southern Mississippi.
At the Beach Bash Sunday afternoon at the Tradewinds Island Resort in St. Pete Beach, hot tempers outweighed the cool temperatures as the event was halted prematurely when players from the competing teams nearly came to blows during a "friendly" poolside dance competition.
"Someone said something disrespectful, did a little jawing after the dance contest… it's all good," said Louisville linebacker Dexter Heyman, who was front and center in the fracas. It's "just a little too close to game time, ya know?" .
Southern Miss players had a different perspective.
"They started talking trash about us being in Conference USA, [that] we can't dance… it was stupid. We'll do our talking on the field," uttered one Golden Eagle who refused to be identified. "A friendly dance competition and they take it all serious? It's ridiculous."
Nothing like a little pre-game hostilities to spark interest in the game.
The Beach Bash was scheduled to run from 3-6pm but ended after just an hour and a half.
Following a few harmless beachside activities like playing volleyball, watersliding and shooting hoops, things got out of hand shortly after the contingent moved poolside for the competitive events.
The first contest was the dance-off, featuring three players from each team. It was all in good fun as the players engaged in bouts of break dancing, moonwalking, and the ever-popular "Dougie".
But at the tail end of the contest the back-and-forth banter grew a little too heated, prompting an appearance from a group of armed Florida Highway Patrol officers. Shortly thereafter, emcee Deveryn Wilson warned if emotions weren't tempered, the event would be halted.
The warning didn't work. Minutes later, just before the fan favorite belly flop contest was to begin, the event abruptly ended, the teams quickly dispersed, and the crowd left wondering what had happened.
"All I know is the [Louisville] coach called them to the bus. It was not our decision," an FHP trooper said.
A stunned but somewhat bemused Wilson had a hard time believing what he just saw.
"I've worked every one of these bashes and never had anything like this happen. I just want to thank those troopers, because they probably saved my life!"
So a friendly day at the beach was overcast in more ways than one. The teams will have a couple of days to stew over what happened Sunday afternoon before they actually meet at Tropicana Field on Tuesday night.