Air Force coach Troy Calhoun is taking a philosophical approach to his post-game verbal altercation with Wyoming coach Dave Christensen. He believes the incident can serve as a learning experience for his players.
“I think in life, instances can occur and yet I think it’s probably important for our guys to realize that your job is to observe and to fight for the freedoms of this country, including the First Amendment. And there are times when that First Amendment can be turned back at you,” Calhoun said Sunday night.
Christensen apologized Sunday for his remarks.
In the immediate aftermath of Air Force’s 28-27 victory over Wyoming Saturday night, Christensen expressed his displeasure with Air Force quarterback Connor Dietz’s long exit from the field in the fourth quarter. Christensen said he believed Dietz was exaggerating a head injury to allow Air Force to stop the clock without calling a timeout.
Was Christensen exercising his First Amendment rights when he protested to Calhoun?
“I think absolutely,” Calhoun said. “Absolutely. And you’re allowed to exercise your First Amendment rights.”
Calhoun denied Dietz was exaggerating a head injury.
“You want to make sure you don’t have to feel rushed to get off the field,” he said.
Sophomore quarterback Kale Pearson scored the game-winning touchdown on a 5-yard bootleg on the play Dietz missed. Dietz was back on the field for the next play. He said after the game his head felt “great.”
Calhoun said Wyoming enjoyed an advantage while Dietz was being examined on the field.
Wyoming coaches, Calhoun said, were given a chance to prepare for Air Force’s next offensive play.
“I was ticked because I thought it would give them a chance to contain the boot,” Calhoun said.
If Christensen wants to discuss the Dietz exit, Calhoun said he would answer his phone.
“Golly, we’ll be completely available,” Calhoun said. “We always are.”
Christensen expressed regrets for the incident.
“I want to apologize to Wyoming fans, the Mountain West Conference and the game of college football for my actions and for the comments that I made after our game against Air Force," Christensen said through the statement. "I let my emotions, my passion for our football program and the frustrations of the first half of the season get the best of me, and my actions reflected negatively on our program.
“I have always tried to teach the young men in our program the importance of sportsmanship in our game, and with that said, I believe it is important to let them know that when you do make a mistake you need to stand up and take responsibility for your actions. That is what I am doing with this apology.”
Tailback Cody Getz suffered an injured ankle in the fourth quarter against Wyoming. “I don’t know when he’ll practice,” Calhoun said. “I don’t know if he will practice this week. He will be out at least a few days.” Getz came into the Wyoming game averaging 177.40 yards per game. He gained 42 yards on 10 carries against the Cowboys. … Fullback Broam Hart suffered a hand injury. Calhoun is unsure of his status for Saturday’s game against New Mexico.