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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Ex-Houston OL says Dana Holgorsen asked seniors to redshirt after poor start

Dana Holgorsen

Remember the surprising news a few weeks ago that D’Eriq King was going to redshirt the season after Houston started off the season 1-3? Well, one former member of the team says Cougars head coach Dana Holgorsen was the man behind the plan.

Justin Murphy went on Twitter Thursday to share his side of what transpired at Houston this season. Murphy started four games on the offensive line for Houston this year before being told not to join the team for its game September 28 against North Texas. The Houston Chronicle reported on Tuesday that Murphy quit the team.

Murphy says that after the team started 1-3, Holgorsen began actively reaching out to seniors to ask them to redshirt for the following year. King, the team’s star quarterback, and wide receiver Keith Corbin took Holgorsen up on the offer.

Here is what Murphy said in a lengthy Twitter story:

My name is Justin Murphy. And according to sources I am no longer apart of the 2019 Houston Cougar Football Senior Class. A senior class that is the first group to experience a head coach and administration to actively tank a football season. (THREAD)

(1/2) To give a little chronological context as to why I am no longer with the team, I want to take it back to how the season began. We started off the season on a primetime Sunday night vs. Oklahoma University.

(2/2) After receiving a tick in the loss column, we would go on to play 4 games in 19 days. A schedule unprecedented.

The motivating speech to get the labor force (players) through the gauntlet of the University of Houston’s attempt at capitalism? “Nobody watching is gonna care so we can’t care either!” One harsh truth of the nature of football. We would go on to hold a record of 1-3.

Despite the record, we can all hope that the TV revenue produced in those four games was worth it. As for me at the age of 23 and 3 prior knee surgeries, it was the hardest thing as an athlete I’ve ever done.

The only other things I have left guaranteed as a result of my time in college football; a 4th and 5th knee surgery and undoubtedly a case of CTE.

Following the fourth game on 9/19/19 I would be advised to receive an MRI in order to proceed with further injections into my right knee, an injury ridden joint starting back to my first year starting at Texas Tech.

The MRI would reveal yet another torn medial meniscus and a torn and presumed “dead” ACL. An injury that if self-preservation is in mind, I would be advised by a doctor to medically retire.

That Monday I learned that the Head Coach of the Houston Cougars football team had personally contacted several seniors and asked them if they would redshirt for the 2019 football season, in order to “develop” and come back in 2020.

All seniors which greatly contributed to the little success we had done up to that point. Two of the seniors would go on to accept this invitation, including the preseason Heisman dark horse QB.

My reaction can be summed up by a quote I said earlier in the season, “I call bulls–t when I see it.” As a second time graduate transfer that was recruited to Houston on verbal confirmation that we intended to win now, Coach’s actions in a lot of way’s proved otherwise.

But it’s like corporate tax evasion, it’s all within the rules and with the long-term success of the program in mind.

I would continue to go to work that week, participating in the full speed contact practices in preparation of the game. However, that Friday I was told to remain off the plane and stay in Houston in order to “heal up mentally and physically.”

Forcibly taking away one of the reasons why I came to this University in the first place. A suspension that came based on the logic that I was a distraction and not committed to the team.

Coach left practice that day stating, “If you’re not 100% committed to the team then don’t get on the bus.” Ironic in light of recent events.

As anyone who’s participated in sports knows, playing through an injury that can progressively get worse takes a certain level of motivation within himself/herself, and a level of commitment from the team in which he/she plays for.

In my circumstances I could no longer meet that criteria. I decided to focus on self-preservation rather than the win and losses. A common theme in the history of the 2019-20 Houston Cougar Football season.

Safe to say there was no love lost between myself and the ole’ head coach. Only reason I say this is because when I went to say my piece on the matter and to swallow my pride and thank him for this opportunity, I was met with a reaction I did not expect.

Holgorsen sat at a desk, eyes glued to a monitor and replied with 13 words. “I don’t have time to talk, I only have time to coach.” and “O.K.” As if I didn’t deserve an eye to eye farewell or a proper handshake.

As a person that is guaranteed a non-salary compensation of S3.4 million to go along with a $300,000 base salary for the 2019 year, one might think you’d have a better outlook on the players that contribute to your compensation. I mean this is a team sport, right?

As officially only a student, I plan to complete my goal of earning a Master’s in Global Retailing. A goal that I’m positive the administration and the coaches here at the University of Houston share with me.

To my teammates that I played with up to this point. Thank you. It’s the people in the locker room that makes the s— not seem so s—-y.
As a letterman and soon to be alumni of this University, I honestly wish this program the best of luck moving forward. And thank you to the fan base, which are the pillars in which athletic programs stand on.

One might look at my collegiate athletic career as a series of unfortunate events, but if a long football career has taught me one thing it’s you can only control the things you can control. So what? Now what?

Thank you Houston and God bless. #GoCoogs

The accusation that Holgorsen encouraged his players to take advantage of a redshirt rule is something the NCAA needs to look into. The relaxed redshirt years were intended be more forgiving towards players who barely saw action in certain years or got hurt, not to be manipulated when a team is having a down season.

And while Murphy’s injury situation seems terribly unfortunate, it’s hard to have too much sympathy for him otherwise. He left Texas Tech after medically retiring in 2017 and chose to continue his playing career as a graduate transfer at UCLA in 2018. If he were so concerned about his health like he claims, he could have called it quits. Instead, he went to UCLA to keep playing. Then he got cleared for a sixth year of eligibility and transferred to Houston so he could have a chance to play more. He knows he had knee issues and chose to continue playing two more seasons, so complaining about being left with five or six knee surgeries and not much compensation for his career is disingenuous.

Further, based on the way he termed his comments, Murphy views himself as a worker rather than a team member, and then doesn’t understand why he might be labeled a distraction to the team. That type of attitude might be why.

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