Gators Coach Responds to Brawl

When the Florida Gators faced off against the Missouri Tigers, fans expected a hard-fought football game. They didn’t expect a bench-clearing brawl, but that’s exactly what they got. Now, the SEC is handing out penalties to players and coaches for their roles in the fracas, and at least one of these coaches, Florida head coach Dan Mullen, is responding to the consequences.

According to various media reports, the Southeastern Conference docked Mullen $25,000, saying he not only failed to stop the brawl but did not do enough to avoid throwing fuel on the fire. As part of the consequences, Missouri linebacker Chad Bailey and offensive lineman Dylan Spencer and defensive lineman Markell Utsey will each miss half of Missouri’s next contest, against Georgia on November 14.

Florida players Zach Carter and Antwuan Powell, who were both ejected from the game, will have to sit out the first half of the Gators’ next game, against those same Georgia Bulldogs.

In doling out the suspensions and fines, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said, “There is no place in college football for the kind of incident that took place at halftime of the Missouri and Florida game Saturday night… Everyone involved is responsible for meeting sportsmanship standards throughout each game… Running onto the field to confront a game official, the gathering of teams in an on-field confrontation and student-athletes throwing punches are all disappointing at any time, but even more so as we work to support healthy competition during a pandemic…”

As of this writing, there’s no indication as to whether or not the teams, or anyone else involved, will face penalties for violating NCAA rules regarding COVID-19 safety. These kinds of precautions are something all teams, at every level of football, are playing close attention to, and some organizations are fining teams heavily for violating any protocols they agreed to in order to be able to play this season.

That didn’t stop Gators coach Mullen from, according to reports, “charging across the field” into the fight, which he did several times, having to be pulled away by other coaches and officials on multiple occasions. Sports media has said that this attitude and disposition of his team was “clearly following” Mullen’s aggressive example. The coach, both the SEC and the media have said, should have acted to de-escalate the fight rather than acting in a way that appeared to support the actions his players were taking.

Mullen released a statement after news of the fine went public, accepting responsibility for his actions and saying: “I respect the decision from the conference office… As the head coach, it is my responsibility to defuse these types of situations, and I didn’t live up to that standard…”

Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5wpr, a leading US PR agency

Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the Founder and Chairman of 5WPR, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 25 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America’s most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company’s growth, overseeing more than 275 professionals. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named “PR Agency of the Year” by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world’s most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine’s Most Influential New Yorker, a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider, and a recipient of Crain’s New York 2021 Most Notable in Marketing & PR. Torossian is known as one of the country’s foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and has authored two editions of his book, “For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations,” which is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.

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