By Bryan Fulford
(via Media Reports)
North Carolina A&T head coach Sam Washington has had quite a week. Unusual. Uncharacteristic. Unfortunate.
All of those adjectives seem to be the only way I can best describe the set of circumstances surrounding the coach of the 2x defending HBCU National Champs following a loss to Florida A&M on Sunday 34-31.
In comparison to FAMU head coach Willie Simmons, also in his second-year leading a well-respected HBCU football program, Washington’s comments following the game, and the following day in his press conference, have been less than graceful and regal for a man as respected for his defense as he is leading young men on the field.
Maybe it was the delayed travel to Tallahassee, FL due to Tropical Storm Nestor, which changed the kickoff of the game from Saturday evening to Sunday afternoon… Maybe it was the implications of what this game meant for the season… Maybe it was losing to Simmons and FAMU a year ago at home, the second home loss to a conference opponent last year… Maybe it was the in-game words between a rowdy group of FAMU fans/students behind the A&T bench… Maybe it was his assistant coaches sharing verbal “pleasantries” with FAMU coaches during pregame or the halftime scuffle involving his players as teams crossed paths heading to their locker rooms… Maybe it was the final play of the game in which officials spent a few minutes trying to determine if FAMU WR Marcus Williams’ game-winning catch was clean.
Wrap all those “MAYBE’s” in a tight light package and you can see why a coach might be a little frustrated with himself, people around him in his program, the officials and conference. Right?
Regardless of the reasons why Coach Washington has turned WWE heel in the eyes of many, MEAC commissioner, Dr. Dennis E. Thomas, who was at the game in Tallahassee, levied a fine on Washington for specific comments in a column published by the Greensboro News & Record on Tuesday October 22.
As described by A&T athletic director Earl Hilton to the News & Record (LINK):
“They were upset with the column,” Hilton said, “where Sam is quoted as suggesting the officials were reluctant to enforce a penalty because they were fearful. … The commissioner read it to me when he called. What they were frustrated with was the expression that the officials were somehow afraid or fearful.”
The old rule still holds true that you can talk about any and everything, but NEVER question the officials or their integrity.
He said, he said ends with a slam
The heat on Coach Washington from the MEAC may have come in print, but the heat from fans of Florida A&M and HBCU football fans in general the past week can be traced back to comments made during his Monday press conference where he commented that he felt they “lost to a lesser team” moments after apologizing for the events during and the game. The moment was preserved in a video tweet.
North Carolina A&T Head Football Coach Sam Washington addresses the Loss against FAMU and apologizes for the way his team acted in Tallahassee.
— True Bulll (@TrueBulllfr) October 21, 2019
Coach Simmons responded to the comments in his press conference the following day (LINK):
"Sometimes you just have to put your big boy pants on and take your whooping and go on to next week."https://t.co/TAVI2vg6v7
— Lori Buhring (@loribuhring) October 23, 2019
And just like that, Coach Simmons went all “DeAndre Jordan on Brandon Knight” with his response. WHOA!
That’s all she wrote folks. Now, everyone get “on to (insert opponent)” and we’ll circle our calendars in 2020 when these two teams meet again.