It might be easier to list the players who didn’t receive unsportsmanlike conduct penalties as both teams drew flags for extracurricular activity after the whistle on several occasions throughout the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl. The unsportsmanlike conduct was an ongoing problem, and it got to the point of embarrassment when things continued late into the fourth quarter.
For Kentucky, penalties almost cost Mark Stoops’ team the game because the Cats were flagged 10 times for 103 yards in total.
NC State head coach Dave Doeren was the first to address the unnecessary roughness when he was asked to comment in the postgame press conference. Doeren placed the blame on Kentucky’s side, saying, “I don’t know. Maybe you should ask them. There was a lot of stuff underneath, on the ground and in the piles and different things like that. It’s hard to say.”
Mark Stoops took another approach by putting some of the blame on the Big Ten officiating crew in his explanation of the frequent penalties. Admitting he needs to clean up some discipline issues within his own locker room, Stoops said, “Some of the unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, I gotta get cleaned up and I will. That’s not us. We’re not going to accept that. I’m not going to get into touchy or not or whatever, I really couldn’t tell.
“But these were clearly not officials we’re used to, but it’s on me and on us and we’ll get that addressed. When you get in these bowl games you’re not used to certain officials and I have to do a better job preparing us for that.”
It’s fair to say some of the flags were on conduct that would’ve passed in the SEC (Luke Fortner’s penalty comes to mind), but there were still way too many issues after the play. Many worried it would spill over into the postgame handshakes, but both sides were respectful after the game, so at least it ended with the final whistle.
What do you make of the two coaches explanations?