Brawl may hurt both teams later

Pac-12 will have last word on any further sanctions
2011-10-21T00:01:00Z Brawl may hurt both teams laterPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
October 21, 2011 12:01 am  • 

About 20 minutes after being ejected from Thursday night's game for fighting, Shaquille Richardson left his team's halftime huddle and headed for the field.

His bosses' boss was waiting for him.

"Shaq," athletic director Greg Byrne said, "you have to go back to the locker room."

The sophomore cornerback returned under the Arizona Stadium bleachers and showered.

He was the first, but maybe not last, UA casualty after one of the more bizarre sequences you'll ever see in college football.

With four seconds left in the first half of the Wildcats' 48-12 win, UCLA lined up to throw a Hail Mary pass from its 43-yard line.

A UA student dressed in an official's shirt ran onto the field from the UA sideline, blowing a whistle, and tried to take the game ball. Then he removed his shirt and pants, and sprinted toward the north end zone.

"I thought he was a ref," UA kicker John Bonano said. "He looks like a ref. All of a sudden, he started taking his clothes off."

Cornerback Trevin Wade smiled later, considering the absurdity.

"He blew the whistle, and everything," he said.

While security guards chased after the underpants-clad intruder, Richardson and UCLA wideout Taylor Embree started jawing at the line of scrimmage.

Words turned into pushing, which drew punches and more players.

Quickly, before fans could turn away from the half-naked UA student - who was jailed for trespassing - a bench-clearing brawl had broken out. Players and coaches ran onto the field. Even Byrne tried to break up the fight on the field.

"I was really disappointed with that," UA interim coach Tim Kish said. "If there's a black mark to this whole game, there's that.

"Without discipline, you have nothing. I thought our guys reacted well in the second half and showed some composure."

Such fights, Kish said, happen often when the game is "a little lopsided early."

He and UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel spoke after the fight, on the field.

"I wanted him to know, in no way shape of form, there was nothing condoned on our side of the bench," Kish said.

Neuheisel, said the "fracas was two young players getting into it," and called it "frustration."

It may hurt both teams next week.

According to the NCAA rule book, if video review "of a game by a conference reveals plays involving flagrant personal fouls that game officials did not call, the conference may impose sanctions prior to the next scheduled game."

Translation: If video review finds players who threw punches or players that left the bench, those players might not be in uniform next week. Also, according to the rule book, players ejected because of a flagrant personal foul "shall automatically initiate a video review for possible additional sanctions before the next scheduled game."

Byrne said the Wildcats "always have the right" to add additional punishment.

He called Richardson - who was not made available for interviews - "one of my favorite kids on the team" who "understands he made a bad mistake."

Neuheisel said he would have to see the videotape before disciplining his team.

"We'll wait and see what the Pac-12 has to say," he said.

Kish spent maybe 10 minutes of halftime telling his players not to let their emotions ruin the chance of putting the blowout game away.

It capped a stressful 10 days that started with the firing of coach Mike Stoops.

"Being a football team, a lot of people don't think we get emotional," running back Taimi Tutogi said. "We thought it was our fault. We don't blame Coach Stoops for the games that we lost."

The lighter side of it wasn't lost on the team.

Asked about the streaker, Kish looked at his only son, Michael.

"I'm just glad," he joked, "that it wasn't Michael."

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