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Ex-Bull Brooks Larkin has no regrets about inflammatory statement

The former USF offensive lineman called his position coach a liar and coward in a statement announcing his departure from football.
OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times 
USF offensive line coach Matt Mattox is in his 14th season as an assistant at the college level.
OCTAVIO JONES | Times USF offensive line coach Matt Mattox is in his 14th season as an assistant at the college level.
Published Apr. 7, 2018

Twenty-four hours after creating a local firestorm by calling his position coach a "liar" and "coward" in a lengthy Twitter statement, former Bulls OL Brooks Larkin said he "absolutely" would do it again.

"I knew it would get around and I knew some people are gonna benefit from this," Larkin said Saturday afternoon in a lengthy phone interview. "I think while this could come back to bite me in a professional setting, I can honestly say I did everything I could the right way, and was honest about everything."

Related: USF lineman Brooks Larkin leaves program, blasts position coach

Larkin, a 22-year-old walk-on who starred at Manatee High in Bradenton, created a social media dust-up — or sandstorm — with his 228-word statement Friday afternoon announcing his departure from football and blasting Bulls second-year OL coach Matt Mattox, whom he says repeatedly has misled him about his role.

The only member of the coaching staff to whom he has spoken since Tweeting his statement is Coach Charlie Strong, whom Larkin said tersely reassured him his career as a Bull was finished.

"That was a short conversation," Larkin said. "He was upset that I called out his coach."

Following Saturday's closed scrimmage, Strong said he was surprised by Larkin's statement, and defended how his staff conducts its business.

"A lot of times that's gonna happen to you where a player gets disgruntled," said Strong, who met with Larkin earlier Friday. "But we have to continue to just coach the guys we've got and just make them better."

Mattox, in his second season on USF's staff and his 14th year in college coaching, wasn't made available to reporters Saturday.

Larkin, who works part-time at an on-campus rec center to help finance his education, insists he was assured by Mattox he would get a chance to split first-team reps with redshirt sophomore Michael Wiggs in the competition for the starting center job this spring. Larkin said that hasn't been the case.

Last August, he appeared poised to start at right guard in the 2017 season opener against San Jose State, but said he was informed by Mattox a few days before the game he was being moved to backup center.

He acknowledges recently exchanging words with Mattox in the locker room, and approaching Strong about moving to defense. On Friday, shortly before Tweeting his statement, he said he aired his grievances in a pleasant sit-down with Strong.

"He listened to everything I had to say, and he was very respectful, very professional," said Larkin, who purposely didn't attend Thursday's practice. "I've never taken that away from Coach Strong; he is a very professional individual, and I like Coach Strong as a person."

At the end of the meeting, Larkin said Strong encouraged him to speak with Mattox, and Larkin reluctantly agreed. He said he waited 25 minutes in Mattox's office. When the coach didn't show, Larkin said he had to leave for a biology lab.

On his way out of the Selmon Center, he said he was informed by two teammates he had been voted off the offensive line by his peers. An ensuing voice mail to Mattox wasn't returned, Larkin added.

"That's when all respect went out the door," he said.

"The more I got to know, I talked to other guys and there were like, four guys that spoke out, and two of 'em were for me. It was basically a split decision."

When asked if he knew what happened regarding the would-be meeting between Mattox and Larkin, Strong said, "I have no idea, and I met with (Larkin), so that's all that matters. He met with the head coach. … It went well."

Larkin said he has received an outpouring of support from friends and loved ones since his Twitter statement, but acknowledged some Bulls players are angry with him. Others, he said, say they share his sentiment but as scholarship players, are fearful of going public.

A post-practice tweet Saturday by veteran OT Marcus Norman seemed not-so-subtly directed at Larkin.

"He asked me about it before he posted the thing," Larkin's dad, Troy, said Saturday. "He said, 'Dad, this is what I'm posting.' I said, 'It's the truth. As long as you tell the truth I don't have a problem with it.'"

Said Strong: "This team, and even with our coaching staff, we're always gonna do things the right way. And I think we know how to develop players, and it's all about player development."

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