A day after losing to Navy in the Armed Forces Bowl, Middle Tennessee head coach Rick Stockstill issued an apology. It wasn't an apology to the fans for losing, however. Instead, it was apologizing for the actions of Middle Tennessee linebacker Roderick Blunt.
Blunt was ejected from Monday's game after getting his second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty of the game. Blunt was shown multiple times during the broadcast of the game exhibiting questionable behavior, all aimed at Navy players. At one point, Blunt was shown attempting to gouge the eyes of Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds.
Blunt was not available after the game for comments. Instead, he released an apology today.
In the statement, Blunt says, “I would like to apologize to my team, coaching staff, Navy, and most importantly, Keenan Reynolds for my actions Monday. I accept responsibility and the consequences of my actions. It was my last college game and emotions were at an all-time high. But there is still no excuse for my actions and know this is not a reflection of Blue Raider football.”
Head coach Rick Stockstill echoed the linebacker in a statement of his own. It says, “After seeing the replay of the game, I saw things that I was unable to see live from the sideline. I have called Navy Head Coach Ken Niumatalolo, quarterback Keenan Reynolds, and Brant Ringler, the executive director of the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, and apologized for Roderic Blunt's actions. I have strived to run a first-class program and I do not condone this type of play. We have shown a history of good sportsmanship and, this season, we ranked as the ninth-least penalized team in the country. We were called for just one defensive personal foul penalty prior to the bowl game. I understand the game of football and what goes on out on the field, but there is no place for that type of behavior. It was a very emotional game for both sides, played with a lot of passion and sometimes players get caught up in that emotion. However, the bottom line is we hold ourselves to high standards and we expect our players to be good representatives of our university. Roderic knows the consequences of his actions. As head coach, I will take steps to ensure our team understands the importance of proper behavior and the conduct we expect as Blue Raiders.”
The Blue Raiders were kept out of the end zone in the 24-6 loss to Navy. It was Middle Tennessee's first trip to a bowl game in three years.