MTSU player, coach apologize for bowl game eye gouge

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When one man purposely sticks his finger and/or fingers into the eyes of another man on a football field — or any other field, really — apologies are usually in order. Tuesday, the mea culpas were flowing following an incident in a bowl game earlier this week.

During the course of Navy’s Armed Forces Bowl win over Middle Tennessee State Monday, MTSU linebacker Roderic Blunt was caught by the wonders of modern technology gouging the eye of Midshipmen quarterback Keenan Reynolds. Blunt was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct on the play, his second such penalty of the game and resulted in an ejection.

In statements sent out through the Blue Raiders’ sports information department, Blunt apologized “most importantly” to Reynolds for his actions while MTSU head coach Rick Stockstill said he does “not condone this type of play.” Stockstill took the public apology a step further, saying that he has personally 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.”

As Blunt is a senior and has played his last game as a Blue Raider, there will be no individual punitive measures stemming from the incident.

Here are the statements from the two, with Blunt’s appearing first:

“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.”

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“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.”

Ex-WVU receiver Reggie Roberson announces transfer to SMU

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Former West Virginia wide receiver Reggie Roberson seems to have found his new place to call home. Roberson announced his commitment to SMU with a doctored image on Twitter on Saturday afternoon.

By rule, Roberson will have to sit out the 2018 college football season since he is transferring to another FBS program. He’ll be eligible to play again for SMU beginning in 2019, but he will do so with three years of eligibility remaining.

Roberson was a three-star prospect in West Virginia’s Class of 2017 and he played in 10 games as a true freshman for the Mountaineers last fall. In those 10 games, Roberson caught six passes for 30 yards. Roberson is a native of Texas, so moving to SMU will bring him a little closer to home than Morgantown, West Virginia can offer.

Syracuse recruiting director leaves to become scout for Buffalo Bills

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Syracuse recruiting director Asil Mulbah is heading to the NFL. With an announcement on Instagram, Mulbah announced he is joining the scouting department with the NFL’s Buffalo Bills.

“Excited to announce that I have accepted a position in the Buffalo Bills Scouting Department,” Mulbah said in his statement. “I’d like to thank Coach Babers, the SU football staff, and the players for an amazing two seasons filled with memories I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

Mulbah has previous NFL scouting experience with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He has been a part of the Syracuse program since 2016. Prior to his arrival at Syracuse under head coach Dino Babers, Mulbah made stops at Wake Forest and Bowling Green.

Nebraska’s starting center opts to retire from playing football

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Nebraska has a handful of centers vying for the starting job in the middle of the offensive line this season. However, one of those options will not be Michael Decker. On Saturday morning, via Twitter, Decker announced he is retiring from playing football. Decker was a starting center for the Huskers last season.

“Over the past [six] months, I have taken a step back and looked at my future career goals and decided that I can no longer [accomodate] football’s commitments,” Decker said in his statement. “It is finally time to see that these aspirations outweighed the lacking desire to continue playing the game. Which, given the team’s goals, would only hurt them by my participation.”

Decker started five games for Nebraska at the center position in 2017 as a sophomore. A knee injury in October brought his season to a premature end. That injury also sidelined Decker for Nebraska spring football this season, leaving his future with the program and the game in doubt.

Nebraska is now moving forward with 14 offensive linemen on scholarship. Hunter Miller seemed to get the most opportunities in the spring to work with the first-team offense, but Nebraska also expects to have Cole Conrad back for the fall. Conrad started seven games for Nebraska last fall.

Japanese college football coach resigns over controversial hit

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Masato Uchida, the head coach of Nihon University’s national championship football team in Japan, has resigned as head coach of the program in response to a devastating hit delivered by one of his players on an opposing quarterback in a recent game against rival Kwansei Gakuin.

A Nihon defender well behind a pass play sped toward a quarterback well after an attempted pass. With the quarterback leisurely jogging toward the sideline, the Nihon defender tackled the unsuspecting quarterback from behind at the legs. You can watch the video of the hit, which went viral in Japan, on YouTube. The quarterback was forced to leave the game and it has been reported recovery from ligament damage in his spine could take three weeks. Fortunately, no nerve damage was discovered.

“The responsibility for this series of problems lies directly with me. I will resign as head coach,” Uchida said on Saturday, according to the Associated Press. “I am quitting for the sake of the young players. We must create a new Nichidai. After the incident, I did not warn my players and that is my responsibility. It was my poor judgment.”

Officials from Kwansei Gakuin accused Nihon of intentionally trying to hurt the quarterback, but Uchida initially refuted such allegations. In light of the controversial hit, three games for Nihon have been canceled due to upcoming opponents opting not to play against them. The Kantoh Collegiate Football Association announced additional cancellations as well.