Clemson defensive lineman Christian Wilkins was immortalized on the internet for all the wrong reasons during the Fiesta Bowl. The Tigers were on their way to what was a dominant, shutout victory over Ohio State when Wilkins was caught on camera snatching the groin of Curtis Samuel and the reactions to the video evidence were swift. However, Wilkins’ teammate Ben Boulware, who happens to be the team’s defensive leader, came to swift defense on Wednesday and it came in bizarre fashion.
Boulware first explained, via David Hale of ESPN, that Clemson has engaged in this type of behavior “all year”.
“We’ve done it all year to mess with players. No one has done it as aggressive as Christian did. We try to be more discreet about it. He grabbed a handful.”
Then, he doubled down a bit by using his own examples.
“Christian went a little too far. But I’ll mess with somebody, poke them in the belly button, grab someone’s butt. People freaking out about that have never played the game or they were losers with no friends when they played. It’s annoying it’s brought so much attention to it, trying to divert the attention that we beat them by 31 points.”
While Boulware did manage to say that Wilkins “went a little too far”, the fact that he saw it as “annoying” sticks out for a number of reasons. Namely in that the visual evidence was so compelling that Wilkins himself apologized.
Boulware wasn’t done:
“The worst thing I’ve done all year was poke Zach Bailey in the butt. Should I really be suspended because I touched his butt? People trying to get Christian suspended for grabbing this dude’s butt — he didn’t stomp on his ankle or punch him in his private parts. He didn’t do anything but grab his butt. Is it really that big of a deal?”
And, for good measure, he turned it into an “insider versus outsider” rift by suggesting that anyone detracting from the practice had “never been in a locker room”.
“The game is so serious and locked in, and you do stuff to break up the seriousness of the game. People are trying to say sexual assault, and people who say that have never played football, never been in a locker room, seen the weird stuff — we’re together every day for years, and you get very comfortable with each other.”
This probably isn’t the best look for the Clemson program and Ben Boulware’s reputation proceeds him. However, there will be a segment of the football-watching population that likely applauds his response and that is a problem in and of itself.