TALLAHASSEE — Coach Bobby Bowden explained Sunday morning why he took the step of suspending five players involved in a brawl before the campus police had finished investigating.
He said the players, who had been at odds with some members of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity for a couple of weeks, put themselves into a potentially combustible situation by going to the student union at lunchtime on Wednesday.
"The boys just should not have gone over there," he said, going into depth on the incident for the first time publicly. "Surely they knew something was up.
"And yet you can see why several of them would go, so so-and-so don't get beat up."
Receivers Taiwan Easterling, Bert Reed, Corey Surrency, Cameron Wade and Richard Goodman were suspended Friday and missed Saturday's 27-17 home loss to Boston College.
Although Reed and Surrency have been suspended for other reasons this season (Reed twice), Bowden said if it's up to him, he'll have the players back as the Seminoles prepare for Saturday's game at No. 22 Maryland.
"To me it makes a lot of difference of who attacked who," he said. "I hope they're back. I guess it's all according to how they come out in that (police) report."
Police are expected to be done sifting through more than two dozen conflicting statements and make arrests if appropriate. (A female bystander was struck by a chair and whoever threw it could face a felony charge, not just a misdemeanor for fighting.) Bowden, who has in the past been criticized for not acting swiftly or harshly enough to off-the-field problems, said his players should understand the repercussions of such an incident.
"These kids who got suspended came by my office and cried, 'Why me? I was just trying to help my buddy,' '' he said. "They couldn't believe they were going to be suspended, so I'm sure they got the message, and it'll give a message to all our kids.
"I've done this every year, (told the team), 'Men, you have to back away from trouble. You might look like a coward, but you must back away. … and if somebody's harassing you, call the police.' "
Fluke injury: After senior S Darius McClure came up with his first career interception early in the fourth quarter, he and LB Toddrick Verdell celebrated with a chest bump.
But McClure landed awkwardly and injured his left knee, perhaps tearing his ACL. A MRI exam is planned for today, but the worst diagnosis is feared by his teammates.
"That hurt my heart," said LB Dekoda Watson, who said he looked into McClure's eyes as he lay on the field.
If McClure is out as it seems, FSU will be without its starting safeties, at least for the kickoff, on Saturday. Junior Myron Rolle will be in Birmingham, Ala., that day competing for a Rhodes Scholarship and will then jet to College Park, Md., for some of the game.
Brian Landman can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3347.