HOUSTON – A heated exchange over a coat between a coach and a player on the University of Houston sidelines is making headlines.
The Cougars beat Tulane 17-48 on Thursday night, but the victory wasn’t what grabbed the attention. It was an argument between head coach Major Applewhite and injured defensive lineman Ed Oliver.
Video of the encounter showed Oliver, who is recovering from a knee injury suffered during the team’s game against Navy, wearing the team’s gray parka. Only players who are playing on the field are allowed to wear that particular coat.
“We just have a rule on the sideline that guys who are participating in the games, and specifically starters, that they have jackets so they can stay (warm),” Applewhite said after the game. “Ed had one so I asked him to take it off because I don’t want to be unfair and unequal to the other guys.”
The video appeared to show Applewhite walk over to Oliver and remove the coat from Oliver’s left shoulder, telling him to take it off. Oliver complied, but later he seemed to become irate while the team was walking to the locker rooms at halftime.
Oliver appeared to begin yelling at Applewhite and even seemed to charge at him. A few members of the team could be seen trying to hold Oliver back and calm him down. Applewhite didn’t appear to react.
Ed Oliver was HEATED when his coach told him to take off his jacket on the sideline 😡 pic.twitter.com/2OZUAXSrJ1— ESPN (@espn) November 16, 2018
After the game, Applewhite said Oliver left the locker room and he had not spoken to him since the argument. However, he made it clear that he doesn’t hold anything against Oliver.
“He got emotional,” Applewhite said. “But he’s young, and that’s what happens, and he’s not playing, and that’s hard and that’s difficult.”
Oliver has missed four consecutive games because of his injury. He is considered to be a top pick in the 2019 NFL draft.
On Friday, the university sent out these quotes:
“Ed is a passionate human being, and that is why he is the best player in the country. Last night was not indicative of his character and it was a passionate moment within our program. We can, and we will, both learn from this situation as we move forward together,” Applewhite said.
“Last night is not who I am. I’m very passionate about the game of football and last night there was a misunderstanding. I was caught in an emotional moment. I have the utmost respect for Coach Applewhite and I appreciate the support of Coach Applewhite and my teammates during this time. I love my brothers, my team and my city and I’m looking forward to moving forward with them together. Go Coogs!” Oliver said.