No one will accuse former Missouri offensive coordinator Dave Christensen of hiding his thoughts. But candor can prove costly.
Christensen, now the head coach at Wyoming, was suspended and fined $50,000 on Monday for his profanity-pocked tirade after the Cowboys’ 28-27 loss to Air Force on Oct. 13 — a lambasting he leveled at Air Force coach Troy Calhoun for allegedly having his quarterback pretend to be hurt in order to avoid burning a late-game timeout.
Whether the injury was fake is debatable, but there’s no disputing that Christensen, who served on Gary Pinkel’s staff at Mizzou from 1997-2008, responded with one of the most scalding tongue-lashings in college football history.
A 38-second YouTube clip of the incident, which by late Monday had garnered well over 100,000 hits, opens with Christensen swearing in the direction of several Air Force players as he marches toward Calhoun.
The two shake hands at midfield … and then the fireworks begin.
“Nice ethics, man!” Christensen shouts at Calhoun. “I’d be (expletive) scared to death if I had a (expletive) like you defending me!”
An unidentified man keeps Christensen and the stunned Calhoun separated as they continue to walk off the field in Laramie, Wyo. Christensen is held back and then led away by his daughter, but not before calling Calhoun “Howdy Doody” and adding:
“Go get in your (expletive) press conference, flyboy!”
Did we mention that the bizarre scene played out at Wyoming’s War Memorial Stadium, on Military Appreciation Day?
Christensen, who is 19-25 since arriving at Wyoming in 2009, last week apologized to the university, its fans and his players, and was quickly reprimanded by the Mountain West Conference.
Monday’s suspension by the school, which includes this week’s home game against No. 21 Boise State, goes a step further: Wyoming assistant Pete Kaligis will coach the 1-5 Cowboys on Saturday.
“It is important to send the right message to players for their actions,” Wyoming athletics director Tom Burman said in a story posted on the Casper Star-Tribune’s website.
Perhaps the only thing that could make this tale stranger still was the rambling response Calhoun issued during last week’s conference call with the Mountain West’s football coaches.
“For our guys, I think anytime you are an officer candidate, there are different scenarios in life from which you must learn,” Calhoun said. “I’m not saying it’s the same. But there’s definitely some learning experiences that can occur. When Jane Fonda, in 1972, went and was cozy with the North Vietnamese and denounced those that were in the Air Force, there’s something drawn from that.
“I think (regarding the Oct. 13 game), there’s something you can draw from different instances in life. Certainly that’s the case. I think as you go through and you progress forward, as an officer, you are going to fight for those freedoms, for the First Amendment. And that First Amendment can be used in various ways.”