Last fall, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel caused his starting quarterbacks some headaches when he let the world in on the fact that James Franklin had refused a painkiller shot before the Tigers’ game with Arizona State. “It was just too painful for him, and he didn’t want to play,” Pinkel said.
Franklin and Pinkel are now flying high again at 5-0 and their past woes are behind them. Carolina fans should hope that some apparent friction between Steve Spurrier and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney should play out as well.
Despite bruised ribs, Clowney was expected to play on Saturday against Kentucky. He didn’t. Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said he was “totally surprised” that his star didn’t go. Spurrier said more:
“I will just say he told me he couldn’t play, that his ribs hurt. Couldn’t run. Said, ‘I can’t play.’ I said, ‘That’s fine, you don’t have to play.’ We’ll move on. He may not be able to play next week (versus Arkansas), I don’t know. We’re not going to worry about it, I can assure you if he wants to play, we’ll welcome him to come play for the team if he wants to.
If he doesn’t want to play, he doesn’t have to play, simple as that. We were thinking he was going to suit up and play. He did not practice Thursday. Couldn’t run. Said he couldn’t play. Any time a player says he’s hurt, can’t play, who are we to question? He doesn’t play.”
Here’s the video of Spurrier’s comments. Draw your own conclusions:
Asked about Clowney’s commitment to the team yesterday, Spurrier said, “You’ll have to ask him that. I can’t speak for Jadeveon.”
But Spurrier also explained that Clowney didn’t have bruised ribs. Instead he has a strained muscle near his rib cage. And the Ol’ Ball Coach’s frustration came from the fact — he said — that he “didn’t know he wasn’t playing until right before the game.”
But it will be interesting to see how this story develops throughout the week and the season. Some, after all, are already writing things like this: “It’s pretty clear to me that Clowney is the one tanking for the NFL by giving up on his 2013 season.”
Tanking the season? Or truly injured? On Saturday, Spurrier didn’t seem to be buying the injury bit. In fact, he sounded a whole lot like Pinkel a year ago.