TAMPA, Fla. — The scrum is the worst place to be when there is a fumble or when a running back is just dog piled at the line of scrimmage. A lot of unseen “dirty”–for a lack of a better word–stuff goes on at the bottom of a pile made of large human masses.
Players will do whatever it takes to overcome their opponent. There are no limits.
Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins was one of those players, who committed a dirty act on the field that was, unfortunately, not camouflaged by the pileup. The defensive tackle was caught on television groping Ohio State’s Curtis Samuel during the College Football Playoff Fiesta Bowl win last week. Wilkins later apologized for his inappropriate actions.
While Wilkins actions were exposed to the world, other unknown cheap shots, like those that occur at the bottom of a pile were also brought to light because of the defensive tackles regrettable scenario. Clemson linebacker Ben Boulware defended Wilkins after the incident by saying that kind of interaction occurs during games and people are just simply overreacting.
“The people who are freaking out about that have never played the game,” Boulware said earlier this week.
Boulware wasn’t the only teammate to speak out in support of Wilkins. Clemson offensive lineman Jay Guillermo argued that, “ People shouldn’t be giving Wilkins a hard time because “he’s not the only one.”
“People would be appalled, speechless if they knew what happened during a game,” Guillermo said.
Even a few Alabama players commented on how dirty the game of football can get especially if you are in the scrum of a pileup.
“Horrible. It hurts. It’s painful. Grabbing, pinching, and punching a lot goes on down there,” said Alabama defensive lineman Raekwon Davis. “It all depends on how you get hit when you first get hit. Everybody just comes and piles up on you.”
“They be doing some grimy stuff down there. They be twisting your ankle and punching you, poking you, but you got to deal with it. You got to take it,” said Alabama linebacker Ben Davis. “It’s football. If you were out there you would be doing it too.”
While Boulware and other experienced football players may see this dirty side of football as part of the game, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney sees it differently. Swinney was not happy with the way Boulware went about defending Wilkins and said those kind of actions are inappropriate and not practiced within the Clemson football program.
“We play the game with great passion and a will to win, but it was inappropriate. That’s not what we do,” Swinney said.