LAFAYETTE — The Sun Belt Conference certainly was thorough in its evaluation of what took place Tuesday between the Louisiana-Lafayette and Arkansas State football teams.
The conference announced Monday that five players and two Ragin’ Cajuns assistant coaches were reprimanded for their conduct in the Cajuns’ 55-40 win at Cajun Field. Also, the officiating crew will serve a one-week suspension.
It was the same crew that SBC Commissioner Karl Benson reprimanded three weeks ago for a blown call in the Cajuns’ 34-31 win against Georgia State. The crew may not be given consideration for postseason bowl assignments, the conference said in a statement.
Things got heated between the teams near the end of the game, which resulted in numerous unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. But cooler heads did not prevail, and the teams continued jawing at each other in a tense few minutes after the final whistle. Instead of meeting for a handshake after the game, several players and coaches from both teams lingered on the field to shout at one another.
“Numerous incidents occurred during last week’s game that required me to conduct an extensive and detailed review,” Benson said in the statement. “Everyone associated with the Sun Belt Conference, including student-athletes, coaches, officials and administrators, is expected to act with a level of conduct and decorum that includes integrity, fair play and respect for others. In my review, I found that multiple individuals associated with this game did not meet these expectations of fair play and sportsmanship.”
Referees called eight unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in the game and two players were ejected, but the SBC review found several missed instances in the game.
Both ejected players came from Arkansas State. Andrew Tryon committed two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, which is an automatic ejection, and Xavier Woodson spit on a Cajuns player. Tryon, Woodson and two other Red Wolves were reprimanded by the league office.
One of those other players was defensive back Frankie Jackson, who was identified in the conference news release as having “committed a flagrant act that went unnoticed by game officials and could have led to a serious injury” to Cajuns left tackle Mykhael Quave on an extra point attempt in the fourth quarter. That hit seemed to spark a postgame fracas.
Arkansas State’s Tres Houston also was reprimanded for committing “multiple acts of unsportsmanlike conduct that also went undetected by game officials.”
On the Cajuns’ side, defensive back Corey Trim was the only player reprimanded. The SBC review showed him committing multiple acts of unsportsmanlike conduct, “which included a play that was missed by the officials in which he threw a punch at an Arkansas State player.”
Offensive line coach Mitch Rodrigue and strength coach Rusty Whitt were reprimanded for unsportsmanlike conduct and inappropriate bench decorum.
“We expect our players to play with great sportsmanship and respect for the game,” Cajuns coach Mark Hudspeth said in a statement. “This has been addressed, and even though we have not had any issues like this in the past, I’m assured that we will not have any of these in the future.”
The end of the game may have been embarrassing for a conference looking to reap the benefits of playing in front of a national audience on ESPN2. Benson said his conference’s standards are set “very high” and, “when individuals fail to meet our standards, they must be held accountable.”