ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit rips Mississippi State’s Mike Leach over Tulsa brawl

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After Mississippi State and Tulsa football players broke out in a wild brawl at the end of Thursday’s Armed Forces Bowl, ESPN’s “College GameDay” analysts didn’t hold back their disgust as they discussed the Bulldogs’ win.

Kirk Herbstreit, who is working from home after recently testing positive for COVID-19, specifically called out Mississippi State coach Mike Leach.

“Mike Leach should be embarrassed,” Herbstreit said Friday. “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,” Herbstreit added. “Maybe you don’t care about the sport, dude. It’s as bad as it could be watching that for people that are sitting around watching college football and that breaks out. It’s another black eye for college football.”

Host Rece Davis agreed with Herbstreit, stating that the fight was a “crossroads moment” for Mississippi State and Leach, who is in his first season with the Bulldogs.

“First year under Mike Leach — who are you going to be?” Davis said. “What’s your program going to be about? Is it going to be about this chippiness and false bravado and making videos in the locker room celebrating a fight? Or are you going to maybe pull an upset here or there? Or are you going to be about football? It’s a crossroads moment.”

At the conclusion of Mississippi State’s 28-26 win, players from both teams began pushing, shoving and throwing punches at one another. At one point, Bulldogs receiver Malik Heath kicked Tulsa safety Tieneal Martin in the face after throwing him to the ground.

Kendarin Ray, another Tulsa safety, had to be helped off the field and was examined for a possible concussion. While Tulsa coach Philip Montgomery said he didn’t want to comment much about the fight during his postgame interview, Leach was much more flippant about the situation.

He later told reporters that the brawl was “dumb.”

“This is a football game so we’re not going to be tearing cloth over this deal,” he said on the ESPN broadcast after the game. “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.”

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