If you’re a college athlete in this day and age, you’re constantly under a microscope.
It was never more evident than on Monday when MTSU played Navy in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl.
We all know by now about the indiscretions of MTSU senior linebacker Roderic Blunt, who was ejected in the second half after being flagged for his second unsportsmanlike penalty of the game.
Additionally, it appeared earlier in the game that Blunt gouged the eyes of Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds, and he appeared to get away with another questionable play on the sideline.
MTSU coach Rick Stockstill backed his linebacker after the game, saying he had never been a dirty player. After the coach watched the film of the game, he delivered the following statement:
“After seeing the replay of the game, I saw things that I was unable to see live from the sideline. I have called Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo, quarterback Keenan Reynolds and Brant Ringler, the executive director of the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, and apologized for Roderic Blunt’s actions.
“I have strived to run a first-class program and I do not condone this type of play. We have shown a history of good sportsmanship and, this season, we ranked as the ninth-least penalized team in the country. We were called for just one defensive personal foul penalty prior to the bowl game.
“I understand the game of football and what goes on out on the field, but there is no place for that type of behavior. It was a very emotional game for both sides, played with a lot of passion and sometimes players get caught up in that emotion. However, the bottom line is we hold ourselves to high standards and we expect our players to be good representatives of our university.
“Roderic knows the consequences of his actions. As head coach, I will take steps to ensure our team understands the importance of proper behavior and the conduct we expect as Blue Raiders.”
For those who watched the game on TV, they were able to see replays, etc., which showed Blunt’s out-of-character play. And make no mistake, the fifth-year senior hasn’t ever been considered a dirty player.
That doesn’t excuse his actions, but it’s not like this has been an ongoing problem.
Throw into the mix the color commentating of ESPN’s Joey Galloway, who was calling it like he saw it, and Twitter and Facebook exploded.
MTSU fans were outraged, casual fans resorted to some rather nasty name calling, and even former players voiced their outright displeasure in Blunt’s actions.
I tend to heed a lot of what former players, who have been in the heat of the battle, had to say. They truly understand the emotions and intensity of a college football game.
Most of those who went off were never good enough to be on such a stage.
I don’t think there is any question that Blunt deserves to be criticized, but some of the comments went over the edge.
Everyone makes mistakes, but it seems many folks who took shots at Blunt and MTSU’s program have hoisted themselves on a much holier-than-thou throne than I’m privy to.
For me, I’m nowhere near such a pedestal, so while I disagree with Blunt’s actions, I’m not going to go overboard with my opinions and remarks.
Was it a black eye and a terrible day for Blunt? Certainly, but in no way was it a true representation of MTSU’s program, or Blunt, for that matter.
MTSU defensive back Kevin Byard said repeatedly that there were verbal shots being thrown by both sides and the trash talking got out of hand. And we never know everything that happens under pile after a play.
That being said, Blunt was wrong and he knows it. The senior issued the following statement on Tuesday:
“I would like to apologize to my team, coaching staff, Navy, and most importantly, Keenan Reynolds for my actions Monday. I accept responsibility and the consequences of my actions. It was my last college game and emotions were at an all-time high. But there is still no excuse for my actions and know this is not a reflection of Blue Raider football.”
That’s good enough for me. If it’s isn’t for you, so be it.
I guess one way at looking at is the entire thing will be forgotten in due time, and Blunt’s name will rarely, or ever, be mentioned.
Meanwhile, Blunt will always remember his final college football game and the fact he got tossed. That, coupled with his apology, would seem to be punishment enough.
It’s time for all to move on.