In what may be the first suspension of its kind, Colorado State will dock pay from its defensive line coach and keep him off the field for two games for calling an opposing player a “faggot” for acting like, well, a…a jackass… Yes, that’s the word I was searching for. Writers enjoy the benefits of a dictionary; coaches, in the heat of competition, not so much.
In the midst of taking a 22-point lead against Colorado State, Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday approached the opposing sideline, taunted, and then bumped Rams defensive line coach Greg Lupfer. Socially conscious lip-readers believed that they caught the coach uttering an anti-gay slur toward the quarterback. The lip-reading went viral, and Halliday stoked the controversy by complaining after the game that Lupfer “grabbed me and said some profane things to me.”
The coach never grabbed the player, but if you monitor college bowl games for homophobic utterances you may have credibly interpreted Lupfer’s mouth movements as “F— you, you f—ing faggot,” or, alternatively, “Yuk chew, few trucking Saget.” Lupfer opted to forgo the “Bob Saget” defense.
In addition to the two-game suspension, Colorado State has ordered the coach to undergo sensitivity training and anger management classes, which have the counterproductive tendency to make its graduates angrier and more insensitive.
In a groveling style characteristic of a man threatened with the loss of his livelihood, Lupfer thanked his employer for the suspension. “I am deeply sorry for my behavior, which does not represent who I am or my values,” the defensive live coach explained in a prepared statement. “I embrace the opportunity to participate in anger management and diversity sensitivity training. I was angry and careless with my words, and my words hurt many people. I sincerely apologize to the GLBTQ community for causing pain by using a slur without considering its meaning. I take ownership of my words and fully understand why people are very upset.”
The mea culpa didn’t address the propriety of a coach cussing out a kid, or of an authority figure employed by an academic institution using words more commonly pronounced in a penal institution, or of the sportsmanship missing from both parties–legitimate concerns that nevertheless would have not been concerning to anyone had the coach substituted “a**hole” for “faggot” in his vulgar outburst.
And what of the “Qs” referenced in the ever-expanding alphabet-soup of sexual minorities? Might they demand an apology from Lupfer once they discover that their designation also doubles for a slur? Surely the privileged status of the “Gs,” first in the list of sexual minorities, offends the “Ts,” relegated to fourth billing. The PR-flak scripted, gun-pointed-at-head apology asks forgiveness from millions of people who he never said “boo” to and not from the single player he addressed his tirade at.
And as for that misbehaving Washington State quarterback? The season didn’t end well for him, either. “If they could find a quarterback, they’d be a top-five team in the nation,” Halliday said after losing to Auburn in the season opener. “They just don’t have a guy who can throw it.” Nick Marshall leads Auburn in the national championship game against Florida State. Halliday’s Washington State Cougars choked in the New Mexico Bowl, losing a fifteen-point lead with less than three minutes to play to Lupfer’s victorious Colorado State Rams.
So, Connor Halliday, never taunt the opposing sideline in the first quarter and Greg Lupfer, remember, the lip-readers are always, always watching.