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Football: Sun Belt reprimands players, coaches in ASU-UL scuffle

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, October 27, 2014



UL head coach Mark Hudspeth hugs Arkansas State head coach Brian Anderson after their game Tuesday night. Afterwards, a shouting match happened as both team were leaving the field. (Photo: Leslie Westbrook/The Advertiser)


The officiating crew that worked last Tuesday night’s Sun Belt Conference game between UL and Arkansas State at Cajun Field took the brunt of consequence when the league issued rebukes Monday night.

After conducting what it called "a thorough review" of the Ragin’ Cajuns’ 55-40 win over the Red Wolves, the Sun Belt "reprimanded" both teams, five student-athletes, one UL assistant coach and one UL support-staff member.

Four players reprimanded are from Arkansas State, including Frankie Jackson, who dove low into the knees of UL starting offensive lineman Mykhael Quave during a last-minute PAT.

Also reprimanded were UL senior cornerback Corey Trim, UL offensive line coach Mitch Rodrigue and UL strength coach Rusty Whitt.

In Sun Belt parlance, a reprimand amounts merely to a public shaming aimed to attach name to misdeed – but with no actual suspension or penalty involved.

Tuesday’s officiating crew, however, was penalized for how it handled the game.

According to a release from the SBC, members of the crew – Tyrone Blanks, Jim Kelley, Terry Algier, Wayne Gautney, Dan Moore, Fred Wiedower and referee Perry Havener – will be suspended for an upcoming game and "may not be given consideration for postseason bowl game assignments."

The same crew received a Sun Belt reprimand for shorting Georgia State a down in the Panthers loss to UL earlier this month at Cajun Field.

Play was especially chippy in Tuesday’s second half, and afterward several players and team staff members engaged in a brief scuffle that involved mostly volleys of words and accusations.

UL starting quarterback Terrance Broadway was especially livid after the losing, saying "A lot of our guys on our team (were) very upset with the way that ended and that "we thought they (the Red Wolves) had a little more class than that."

It appears all the reprimands are for actions during the game, and not for anything that happened later.

In all, eight unsportsmanlike penalties were called during play and two players – both from Arkansas State – were ejected.

"Everyone associated with the Sun Belt Conference, including student-athletes, coaches, officials and administrators," SBC commissioner Karl Benson said in a statement, "is expected to act with a level of conduct and decorum that includes integrity, fair play and respect for others.

"In my review," Benson added, "I found that multiple individuals associated with this game did not meet these expectations of fair play and sportsmanship."

According to the Sun Belt:

— Trim was reprimanded for multiple acts of unsportsmanlike conduct, including "a play that was missed by the officials in which he threw a punch at an Arkansas State player;"

— Rodrigue and Whitt were reprimanded "for unsportsmanlike conduct and inappropriate bench decorum;"

— Jackson "committed a flagrant act that went unnoticed by game officials and could have led to a serious injury to a UL Lafayette player during an extra point attempt;"

— The reprimand of Arkansas State’s Tres Houston "comes as a result of multiple acts of unsportsmanlike conduct that also went undetected by game officials;"

— Reprimanded Xavier Woodson of Arkansas State was ejected "for spitting on an opposing player;" and

— A-State’s Andrew Tryon, also reprimanded, committed "two personal fouls that per NCAA rules resulted in an automatic disqualification."

Not reprimanded was UL’s Chris Prater, who was blasted by some Arkansas State fans on social media for an allegedly late hit from behind on Red Wolves quarterback Fredi Knighten.

It’s believed Rodrigue and Whitt were chastised for what occurred after Jackson dove at Quave, who was removed from the field on a cart, and not for anything that happened afterward.

Quave underwent an MRI exam last week, and on Monday Hudspeth said the junior lineman would be "fine" for practice today as the 4-3 Cajuns prepare to play South Alabama on Saturday at Cajun Field.

Hudspeth didn’t personally respond Monday night to a request for reaction to the reprimands, but the school’s sports information department did issue a statement.

"We expect our players to play with great sportsmanship and respect for the game," Hudspeth said, according to the statement.

"This has been addressed," he added, "and even though we have not had any issues like this in the past, I’m assured that we will not have any of these in the future."

No one from UL is being suspended as result of what occurred, a Cajuns spokesman said.

An Arkansas State spokesman said via email that "Discipline has been handled internally by our coaching staff, but no one on the team has been suspended."

UL now turns attention to a 5-2 South Alabama team that’s won four straight Sun Belt games against Idaho (34-10), Appalachian State (47-21), Georgia State (30-27) and Troy (27-13).

The Jaguars are 3-0 in road games this year, winning at Kent State, Idaho and Appalachian State.

UL – losers of three straight in September to Louisiana Tech, Ole Miss and Boise State – are 3-0 in October, beating Georgia State, Texas State and Arkansas State.

The Cajuns’ victory over the Red Wolves – who won the Sun Belt title outright after beating UL in 2011 and 2012, but shared the championship after losing to Hudspeth’s club last year – was especially emotional.

"It was very heated," Trim said afterward. "I don’t think they’re a very class …"

"Early in the year we didn’t play with a lot of passion. So, I mean, it was good to see some guys that had some fight in them, and some passion," Hudspeth added two days after the win. "But you’ve got to also put it in the right context. So obviously we addressed some of the guys we had issues with. Ninety-five percent of the guys, there was no issue at all."