BYU guard Nick Emery was in the wrong on Wednesday night. Everyone knows this. His leaping sucker punch on Utah guard Brandon Taylor during the annual Utah-BYU Holy War rivalry game was another example of a BYU player taking things way too far.
These incidents involving BYU athletes are becoming all too common. In the past year alone, there has been The Miami Beach Brawl, Ului Lapuaho grabbing a Boise State player in the jewels and now, the Nick Emery punch. When will it end?
You know, it’s pretty bad when one incident gets its own hashtag on Twitter, but Emery’s punch did. In part because it was so surprising and in part because it’s been happening way too often.
But the manner in which BYU is handling the incident is not helping matters. In fact, Emery’s own brother Jackson–who starred at BYU before playing overseas–posted a picture of Nick’s neck, which looked like it had been scratched by a large cat.
“Not an excuse for his actions. But clawing Nick’s neck can definitely hurt. I doubt this was a bball play. #rivalry,” Jackson Emery tweeted, complaining about how Taylor manhandled Jackson’s little bro. Might this incident have sparked Nick’s fury? anything is possible. Does it excuse Nick for throwing a sucker punch on Taylor with 1:43 left in the game? Not really.
But don’t think for a moment that Jackson Emery is the only BYU player or coach, past or present, who feels like something else should be done. For Nick’s efforts, he has earned a one-game suspension to be served when BYU plays Weber State in yet another rivalry game.
Emery also gave a statement for his actions on Thursday, putting–on his end–an end to his behavior on Wednesday night during the heated rivalry battle.
“I apologize to Brandon Taylor for the incident that happened in the game last night. He’s a great competitor and I got caught up in the intensity of the game and let my emotions get the best of me,” Emery said. “I also want to apologize to Coach Krystkowiak, his team, the fans of both schools, and my teammates and coaches. I regret what happened and will definitely learn from this experience. I’ll continue to play with passion to help our team but will do better in representing myself, the team and BYU.”
But BYU head coach Dave Rose feels some blame some be placed on Taylor as well. “When I talked to the official, he told me it was pretty obvious,” Rose said. “I talked to Nick, and I wanted to make sure (the officials) got the entire play. (The official) told me it was easy, textbook stuff, so we sent Nick to the locker room.”
But Rose didn’t end his thoughts there. He continued, more or less making an excuse for Nick’s retaliatory action and fanning the flames a bit in the process. “I didn’t actually see the play until after I addressed the team and it looks like when this is sent to the conference office, there will be more than just what happened here tonight. That’s my take,” Rose continued.
Of course, neither Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak nor Taylor himself felt their team or player was in the wrong. “I saw him basically punch Brandon then tell him to stay on the ground after he punched him,’’ Krystkowiak said. “That’s what got my undies in a little bit of a bunch. Crazy things happen in this game, and I just hope that’s something we would never do.’’
As for Taylor, the recipient of the Nick Emery punch, the senior guard from Los Angeles took the high road here, deflecting any criticism levied towards him for the allegations BYU officials are making in regards to his on-court play. “It was a dirty play and I don’t have respect for guys like that,’’ said Taylor, who added during the post-game press conference that Emery made a comment to him afterward. “I’m not going to repeat it. Not only did he hit me, but he said something very foul, I’m going leave it at that.’’
Several media sources at the game said Emery told Taylor to “stay down” and then used a derogatory B-word referring to a female dog afterwards, again making matters worse. But if Rose and other BYU officials have their way, the punishments won’t end with Emery’s punch and suspension and Taylor will have his comeuppance as well. The problem is, two wrongs don’t make a right, and in the midst of this mess, BYU seems to be forgetting this.