Mississippi State director of athletics John Cohen said Friday night he was "deeply concerned" after the Bulldogs and Tulsa were involved in a sidelines-clearing brawl following Thursday's Armed Forces Bowl.
Players from both teams threw punches, and Mississippi State wide receiver Malik Heath kicked a Tulsa player around his face mask while he was on the ground moments after the Bulldogs' 28-26 victory in Fort Worth, Texas.
Heath later boasted about the incident in a social media video taken from the locker room.
Cohen was not happy.
“While I’m proud of the representation of our football student-athletes in our previous 10 SEC games and applaud the effort of our team during the Armed Forces Bowl, I’m deeply concerned with the actions of some student-athletes," Cohen said in a statement released by the school Friday.
“No matter what led to the situation, fighting is inexcusable and does not represent Mississippi State University’s core values. Our administration and coach (Mike) Leach are working diligently with the SEC office to review yesterday’s events and will address the situation in an appropriate manner.”
Leach sounded nonchalant about the brawl during Thursday's postgame interview with ESPN.
"This is a football game, so we're not going to be tearing cloth over this deal,” he said. “Somebody went to a football game and somebody got hit. There's a point where I'm not going to lose my mind over it."
In his postgame news conference, Leach said he didn’t have enough information about the brawl to take disciplinary action.
On Friday morning, ESPN's "College GameDay" crew blasted Leach.
Rece Davis called it a "crossroads moment" for Mississippi State under Leach. He questioned the direction of the program under his guidance. Kirk Herbstreit went even further.
"Mike Leach should be embarrassed," Herbstreit said. "His postgame interview and what he said, 'Hey, it's football. Hey, it's physical. It's going to happen.' Are you kidding me, Mike?! You should be embarrassed about your program and what it did. ... This is a black eye for the sport. Maybe you don't care about the sport, dude."
© Jerome Miron, USA TODAY Sports
Mississippi State and Tulsa players brawled after Thursday's Armed Forces Bowl.
Contact Tyler Horka at [email protected]. Follow @tbhorka on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Mississippi State AD John Cohen 'deeply concerned' about bowl brawl with Tulsa