‘Some things were unacceptable’: Jeff Scott on why Nick Roberts is no longer with USF

The head coach said it was best for the program and the junior safety to move on following Friday’s game.
USF coach Jeff Scott center watches his team from the sidelines during a game against East Carolina earlier this month at Raymond James Stadium.
USF coach Jeff Scott center watches his team from the sidelines during a game against East Carolina earlier this month at Raymond James Stadium. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Oct. 29, 2020|Updated Oct. 30, 2020

USF junior safety Nick Roberts, who was seen leaving the field during Friday’s loss to Tulsa, is no longer with the team, head coach Jeff Scott said Thursday.

“There were some things that happened, unfortunately, Friday against Tulsa on the sidelines that were unacceptable and really did not meet our standards,” Scott said during a conference call.

Roberts was trash-talking with a Tulsa player during the second half, Scott said. As he came to the sideline, Scott told him, “That’s not who we are, and that’s not who we’re going to be." Scott said Roberts did not respond the way he would have liked and was benched for the remainder of the game.

On Monday morning, the two met and discussed what had happened.

“It became pretty evident early on in (the) conversation,” Scott said, that it would be best for both the player and the program to move on.

“Nick is not a bad young man,” Scott said. “He’s a good young man. He just made some bad decisions and didn’t respond the right way when given the opportunity to on Monday.”

The news of Roberts’ departure was shared with the team later Monday morning during an already scheduled team meeting.

“That was probably one of the most honest and open team meetings that I’ve ever had,” Scott said. “Where I’ve just kind of laid out the reality of our standard and the only way we’re going to be able to move forward.”

While acknowledging that some of USF’s players were hurt and disappointed, Scott said he thinks they understand that actions have consequences.

“It’s not just talk," Scott said. “I think our guys really needed to kind of see that.”

On Tuesday, Roberts tweeted that he will enter the transfer portal.

A special visitor at practice

After Friday’s game, Scott and his wife, Sara, attended their daughter, Savannah’s, soccer game. Former Bucs and Colts head coach Tony Dungy happened to be there and approached the couple on the sidelines.

“(Dungy) put his arm around me and said, ‘Hey, I’ve been thinking about you and watching you this year. It just reminds me so much of my first year as the head coach for the Bucs,'" Scott recalled. “(Dungy) really encouraged me when I needed it the most.”

The two talked about Dungy’s history as a first-year head coach and Scott asked him to swing by a practice this week. Dungy complied by speaking to the team on Thursday.

“It’s incredible (to have him around the team)," Scott said Thursday afternoon. “That’s another advantage to us being in Tampa, Florida. We get to be in the same city as Tony Dungy.”

Dungy gave the players some words of encouragement, as he did for Scott on Saturday morning.

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He talked about his 1-8 start with the Bucs in his first season and “how the players made the commitment to start doing the little things right.”

“The timing could not have been better," Scott said. “I could not have expected anything better than the message he gave our team this morning.”

Injury update on Cade Fortin, Katravis Marsh

Scott said Bulls quarterback Cade Fortin, who took a vicious hit early in the second half against Tulsa, did not practice this week. But Scott thinks there’s a chance he could be ready to play Nov. 7 against Memphis.

“It’s not a situation that requires surgery,” Scott said Thursday.

Freshman quarterback Katravis Marsh returned to practice for the first time this week since sustaining a concussion against Cincinnati earlier this month.

“He’s done a good job,” Scott said. “He’s a guy who could get more opportunities here in the last four games.”

Jordan McCloud and Noah Johnson split the first- and second-team reps, Scott said.

“We’re kind of evaluating them every day and we’ll continue to do that," Scott said Thursday. "We’ll make a decision as we get closer to the middle of next week of who’s going to go out there first versus Memphis on Saturday.”

Contact Mari Faiello at Follow @faiello_mari.