What college football fans are buzzing about, loud and strong, on Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014, regarding Texas A&M’s football program, are the tarnished image and substantive program embarrassment caused by an Aggie student coaching assistant shoving one player, and hitting another member, of the West Virginia Mountaineers team on the sidelines during the bowl game. It’s definitely not about the Aggies’ 45-37 win that the Aggies are a trending social media topic. In fact, it’s not good at all.
As the accompanying video shows, one of several viral versions in circulation, Michael Richardson, a student coaching assistant on the sidelines–for no good reason–goes off on not one, but two, West Virginia student athletes, at different times. In one incident, Richardson is seen shoving his left elbow (holding a clipboard in that same hand) into the chest of #13, who from the WVU roster belongs to Sean Walters. Then, later, Richardson is caught striking WVU’s #7, Rushel Shell, on the back of his head, again using his left hand. It’s clearly intentional, blatant, and rotten. Just unforgivably rotten from anyone representing Texas A&M.
As Yahoo News reports, during the game, a statement came from Aggie spokesman Brad Marquardt, “when Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin was made aware of student assistant Michael Richardson’s actions on the sideline, he was told to remain in the locker room for the remainder of the game.” So, despite the Aggies being behind WVU at the time, the scrambling on the field was not the only scrambling being done to address the problems.
Today, there is little if any attention devoted, and rightly so, to the Aggies victory over West Virginia. It’s not the fact that the Aggies have now won four consecutive bowl games or that quarterback Kyle Allen showed he was capable of directing the Aggie offense to a win, even when they were behind in the game. The only takeaway memory from the Auto Zone Liberty Bowl “victory” is stupidly offensive behavior of a former Aggie football player, Michael Richardson.
Sadly, as Yahoo News noted, “Richardson was a freshman linebacker in 2012 when he underwent surgery for a cervical spine injury that occurred in a November victory over Sam Houston State.” Is it safe to assume that Richardson was given a job as a student assistant to keep him in school to continue the obligation that A&M felt toward a student who was injured “on the job”? That’s a question for legal minds, but the likelihood of Richardson’s continued value to the team in any capacity is patently clear.
On Tuesday morning, there’s a bit of a question as to whether Richardson was sent to the locker room or sent home or what, but it’s likely that Kevin Sumlin will be asked more about this incident in the days to come, especially as he has some coaching appointments and decisions to announce.
Postgame, per Yahoo News, Sumlin said, “That’s nothing that we condone. There’s nothing about that whole situation that’s a part of who we are and what we believe in.” One would thus expect Michael Richardson to have to address the public and take responsibility for his actions, own them, issue a singular apology to the two WVU players he hit and shoved, and then apologize to both the Texas A&M and WVU teams, promptly. To do anything less, and promptly, would be essentially Texas A&M condoning the very behavior it claims it does not.
The Aggies won the Liberty Bowl, 45-37, but so what, because what happened on the sidelines simply casts a pall on the victory and highlights how the unnecessary and stupid decisions of one person can ruin the reputation of an entire team. Even Johnny Manziel should be catching on to that outcome by now.