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…”
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