Controversy has hit Mississippi State.
Photographs surfaced Wednesday morning of MSU football’s coaching staff on a golf outing at Old Waverly Golf Course in nearby West Point, Miss. Finding truth among these sometimes disturbing images turned out to be more difficult than expected when conflicting reports about who won came from the coaches themselves.
With Dan Mullen out of town for a speaking engagement, it has come down to offense vs. defense. Defensive coordinator Geoff Collins and cornerbacks coach Deshea Townsend played against co-offensive coordinators John Hevesy and Billy Gonzales for the second year in a row, and for the second-straight time, no one seems to know for sure who won.
Even more concerning: Townsend claims he hit a hole-in-one – an impressive feat, if true – but the only evidence he has is a still-frame photo and a scorecard written by Collins.
I spoke with Collins first, after Townsend declined interview, simply saying, “You’ll have to talk to Geoff. He’s the spokesperson.”
Bob Carskadon: So I hear the coaches played some golf this morning while the head man was away?
Geoff Collins: What happens on the golf course stays on the golf course, Bob. But it was a really good time, it was. Beautiful course.
BC: Who won?
GC: There were some discrepancies in scores, but all I know is we walked off the course as the winners.
BC: Well, I saw a picture of John and Billy being presented with a trophy…
GC: I don’t even know where that came from. Made up prizes. All I know is I’ve got the scorecard that says defense won … I’ll just say that we were the first to report our score. There were some conflicting reports where maybe one team wrote down eight on a hole and the other wrote down five. But the first to report it is the accurate one, right?
The same thing happened last year when we played. They’re reporting different numbers and claiming they beat us. But as I see it, we’re the repeat champions.
GC: Look, when Deshea and I finished playing, the scorecard said we won and that’s really all I have to go by.
BC: Was there anything on the line in the competition?
GC: Pride. And right now, I’m a proud guy.
BC: Did Deshea really hit a hole-in-one?
GC: There were a lot of great shots today. Really good golf was played. Some excellent performances out there.
(At this point, Collins interrupted my follow-up question, pointing at his phone.)
GC: Blake Bortles just liked my photo. He’s about to be a top-five pick and he’s basically confirming, by liking the picture, that he agrees. Can’t argue that.
Between interviews, any attempts to hide the arguments were forgotten as coaches openly battled in the hallways on the finer points of the results. I told Collins I’d have to talk to the other side for an unbiased report.
After some verbal disagreements were broken up, I sat with coaches Hevesy and Gonzales in the offensive meeting room as they reviewed film.
While Collins often attempted to talk around answers, Hevesy was direct in his responses, preferring to stick to the hard evidence.
BC: I know you’ve tweeted otherwise, but Geoff and Deshea are claiming they won today.
John Hevesy: Why would you listen to that? Who’s got the trophy? The scorecard is written in pencil.
BC: Geoff claims to have no knowledge of this trophy.
JH: That’s because he quit. He’s a quitter.
BC: You stated pretty boldly that the defense left the course without finishing, but they say it’s not true.
JH: How do you finish 18 holes in an hour and 36 minutes? That’s borderline impossible. If you take the facts into consideration, I think you’ll find the answer. We teed off at 8. Deshea tweeted that they won at 9:36. An hour and half. That’s impossible. So he’s a liar.
JH (after an eye roll): Sure.
BC: Do you have the trophy I could see?
Billy Gonzales: They’re carving our names into it, so it’s still at Old Waverly. It’s just gonna stay there for us until next year when we win our third in a row.
BG (continued): They left. Coach Collins was wearing swim trunks. He left halfway through to go the pool. We tweeted the whole thing. It should be easy to figure out if you look at the facts and the timeline.
And with that, our interviews were finished.
Collins had earlier claimed the bright blue swimsuit was just a distraction, saying they are Hevesy’s least favorite shorts.
In fact, one source told me, Collins and Townsend were so eager to get in the heads of their opponents that they arrived at the first hole with the hit ‘Turn Down For What’ playing at full volume.
Asked for final comment, Collins pulled a smeared sheet from his pocket and smiled as he said, “We just let our scorecard do the talking.”
In the minds of Hevesy and Gonzales, the trophy, given by George Bryan himself, serves as trump card in the on-going scorecard scandal.
Reached for comment upon his return, Mullen perhaps unsurprisingly sided with the offense after hearing both sides of the story.
“Mr. Bryan presented the trophy to John and Billy,” he said with a shrug of the shoulders. “That’s checkmate to me.”
Who is telling the truth? Who really won on the pristine greens of Old Waverly? Did Deshea Townsend actually hit a hole-in-one?
Those who search for truth, it seems, must decide on their own.