Jordan Jones drew the ire of Kentucky fans for his actions in Saturday’s Governor’s Cup.
The Kentucky linebacker started a sideline skirmish in the first quarter with Lamar Jackson that got dozens of players involved. Then in the second half, Jones committed unnecessary roughness penalties on consecutive plays for late hits. Jones was sent to the sideline immediately after, but returned to action later in the game.
Mark Stoops explained on tonight’s call-in show that Jones returned because his replacement, Eli Brown, was injured. The only other option at that time was to pull a redshirt on freshman Jamin Davis. “There wasn’t really a lot of options at that point,” he said.
“At that point you really feel like you’re letting other people down. Honestly the easy thing to do is keep him on the sidelines when the game is out of hand at that point…I didn’t want to pull a redshirt off another guy that had been rapping with us. That’s not fair to the redshirt kid, obviously.”
In Stoops’ eyes, going back into the game after he was publicly disciplined was more shameful than staying on the sideline.
“For him, it’s actually more painful for him to go in after he’s been disciplined like that and talked to and embarrassed, to go back and play than it is to sit on the bench.
“The good things you do and the bad things you do, they’re going to be visible. You own them. There’s no excuse for what he did and the way he acted. He’s embarrassed by it and doesn’t like it. He’s worked hard to do a lot of good things, but putting him back in would’ve penalized more people if I left him on the bench.”
Earlier this year at South Carolina, Jones was injured and unavailable to play. When Eli Brown went down with an injury, Boogie Watson played one snap at the goal line and made a tackle. When Jones was able to return to action a few weeks later, Watson returned to his original position at outside linebacker where he’s remained since.
Stoops said Jones will not be suspended for any portion of the bowl game, unless Jones fails to complete the requirements set forth by the head coach at today’s one-on-one meeting.
“It would be easy for me to dismiss him and move on,” he said. “But that’s not the business we’re in. That’s the easy way to go. The hard thing is for me to continue to develop and grind and have him be accountable and make him the person and the player that he can be. That’s what you struggle with as a coach. Sometimes in this day and age, we want to just move on and dismiss people too easy. I can’t do that. I’ve gotta just keep on working.”