FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas coach Eric Musselman had a reputation during his time with Nevada in the Mountain West as a coach with a bit of a temper.
It doesn’t look like that reputation will be changing anytime soon following an incident that occurred immediately after Wednesday night’s dramatic finish in the third place game of the Maui Invitational against San Diego State.
Arkansas fans already know their beloved coach can get fiery at times. He has had to be held back or cut off by his coaching staff multiple times when his emotions boiled over.
However, Wednesday night might have been one of his more over the top moments and only a handful of Razorback fans got to witness it live.
Multiple reports indicate that Musselman dropped multiple choice words at San Diego State fans who were seated behind the team bench in the tiny gym where the game is held. Because of how small the venue is, everything can be heard throughout the game and afterward and something set Musselman off.
“There was just an Aztec fan who came down and said some things,” Musselman said afterward. “There were some words exchanged.”
Well, that was an understatement.
Multiple reports indicate Musselman got into a heated exchange with fans that required his staff to pull him back. In the process, multiple witnesses told the San Diego Union Tribune that the Arkansas coach screamed “Go F#@% yourself!” and then held an L on his forehead, the international elementary school symbol to let them know he thought they were a bunch of losers.
To make matters worse, he reportedly exchanged words with San Diego State guard Matt Bradley. Whatever was said was enough to cause the Aztec player to knock over a chair out of anger.
That appears to be where the now infamous video picks up.
That’s when all heck broke loose. San Diego State fans hit the court, including one who is reportedly the parent of a player, wanting to take down Musselman physically for his unprofessional postgame display.
One man in particular was able to barrel his way reasonably close to Musselman and had to be retained by the Arkansas coaching staff.
Opening the tweet above will reveal two videos. One shows an incensed Keyshad Johnson having to be talked down from not going after the Arkansas coaching staff. The second appears to show security forcibly removing Musselman from the arena for his own safety.
There also was an Arkansas fan reportedly trying to make his way into the San Diego State locker room. While it’s not verified, there is a man being escorted away by security wearing what appears to be one of the Arkansas Hawaiian button-up shirts worn earlier in the tournament.
It wasn’t exactly a shining moment for the University of Arkansas.
Arkansas fans will display their loyalty by trying to find a way to blame everything on San Diego State. However, as one Aztec fan put it, there was only one coach being driven out of the arena by security.
Musselman is expected to be a professional, and there’s nothing professional about shaping your fingers into an “L” and placing it on your forehead in an effort to make sure someone from the other side knows you think they’re a loser.
As for advising people to go have marital relations with themselves at the top of your lungs, it’s a bit much.
Had someone tried to physically harm a Razorback player, then Musselman should have been the first one to their defense and he’d better be testing the repair job on that shoulder of his.
But even if it turns out this all started with Aztec fans popping off verbally after the game, they’re just words. Words from people Musselman will never see again.
There’s no reason to care what they say or even acknowledge it.
The best way to get under their skin is to quietly turn your back to them and go celebrate the victory that was just earned with your players.
All Musselman did with his actions beyond damaging the reputation of the university is put a target on his back. Now every student section and fraternity in America is going to see it as a badge of honor to make Musselman blow his top on them next.
To make things worse, a San Diego State team that just lost on the court came out looking like winners almost immediately afterward.
““I don’t know, I don’t know,” San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher said. “I was already through (the handshake line). I just tell our kids, I tell them every year, I tell them every month: ‘You represent yourself first, your family second, and this university and athletic program third. Don’t do anything that would embarrass any of us.’ That’s a message I deliver every year to our guys, and I think they do a good job of holding that up. They represent themselves with a lot of class.”
This should have been a story about the heroics of Kamani Johnson and the grit he brought to this team while willing them to a win. It was the biggest performance of his career in terms of pure impact.
But it’s not. It’s about a grown man holding up a finger “L” on his forehead.
Fans may not like hearing this, but Musselman owes a lot of apologies for this one.
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