Justin Murphy is a Belton, Texas, native who signed with Texas Tech out of high school, graduate transferred to UCLA in 2018 and then graduate transferred a second time to Houston ahead of this season.
Murphy joined the Houston roster on the assumption that an addition of a veteran like him was another tool in the belt of new head coach Dana Holgorsen, whose hiring showed Houston planned to compete and win big immediately.
Five games in, that hasn’t happened.
Houston is 2-3 (0-1 AAC) and the most interesting thing to happen came when quarterback D’Eriq King and wide receiver Keith Corbin elected to redshirt the remainder of the season, making the 2019 Houston Cougars the closest thing college football has ever had to tanking. It was a controversial decision, one made with Holgorsen’s blessing and encouragement, and one that could not come without consequences.
One of those consequences was it royally angered Houston’s existing seniors, players like Murphy.
It was announced earlier this week that Murphy was no longer a member of the team, and on Thursday night Murphy said his piece as to why. In a lengthy Twitter thread, this largely anonymous cog in the machine taught the rest of the country how that machine turns — by chewing up and spitting out lots of players just like him.
Murphy explained that, following Houston’s fourth game in 19 days to open the season, he was diagnosed with a torn meniscus and was advised to medically retire — and learned that on a day that happened to coincide with the day the King news hit. Despite that, Murphy said he planned to play through the injury when he was told effectively that his services would not be needed on Sept. 28 against North Texas or at all for the remainder of the season, his last as a college football player.
Murphy explained his side of the story here:
Following the fourth game on 9/19/19 I would be advised to receive an MRI in order to proceed with further injections into my right knee, an injury ridden joint starting back to my first year starting at Texas Tech.
The MRI would reveal yet another torn medial meniscus and a torn and presumed “dead” ACL. An injury that if self-preservation is in mind, I would be advised by a doctor to medically retire.
That Monday I learned that the Head Coach of the Houston Cougars football team had personally contacted several seniors and asked them if they would redshirt for the 2019 football season, in order to “develop” and come back in 2020.
All seniors which greatly contributed to the little success we had done up to that point. Two of the seniors would go on to accept this invitation, including the preseason Heisman dark horse QB.
I would continue to go to work that week, participating in the full speed contact practices in preparation of the game. However, that Friday I was told to remain off the plane and stay in Houston in order to “heal up mentally and physically.”
Forcibly taking away one of the reasons why I came to this University in the first place. A suspension that came based on the logic that I was a distraction and not committed to the team.
Coach left practice that day stating, “If you’re not 100% committed to the team then don’t get on the bus.” Ironic in light of recent events.
Safe to say there was no love lost between myself and the ole’ head coach. Only reason I say this is because when I went to say my piece on the matter and to swallow my pride and thank him for this opportunity, I was met with a reaction I did not expect.
Holgorsen sat at a desk, eyes glued to a monitor and replied with 13 words. “I don’t have time to talk, I only have time to coach.” and “O.K.” As if I didn’t deserve an eye to eye farewell or a proper handshake.
As a person that is guaranteed a non-salary compensation of S3.4 million to go along with a $300,000 base salary for the 2019 year, one might think you’d have a better outlook on the players that contribute to your compensation. I mean this is a team sport, right?
Murphy ended the thread by tagging Holgorsen’s account, though it’s safe to say he was
already well aware of his (former) player’s screed by that point.