Points, debate start to rise up

T.J. Gerlach

When Lions’ head football coach John Ware shook hands with Pittsburg State University’s head football coach Chuck Broyles after the Oct. 16 Miner’s Bowl, he made a statement which set off tiffs between some of the two sides’ players.

“Obviously, I made my point pretty clear,” Ware said. “Anytime you score 91 points on a team like they did against Missouri-Rolla, or 77 like they did against Truman and 72 against Emporia the week before. I think that, in my opinion, that’s inappropriate.”

Ware said every week “powerhouse” Division I teams play Division I AA teams, but scores of 91-to-something are rare.

“Obviously teams like that have the ability to probably score a hundred on some of those teams if they wanted to,” Ware said. “But the vast majority of football coaches, who are as competitive as anyone else, would just think that’s just not a very tasteful thing to do.”

Ware said he does not know why PSU would be running up the scores, other than to try to break records or for the coaches’ own satisfaction.

“I think it’s demeaning to the team you’re playing,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any need to be throwing the ball, even if it’s third down and whatever, late in the game, when you’re up by 50 or 60 points. I certainly, personally wouldn’t.”

Ware said just because a team can score a high number of points in a game is not a good enough reason to run up the score.

“I think you have to have some respect for the game of football and some respect for the team you’re playing against,” Ware said.

The Lions’ 59-7 loss against PSU was the fewest points PSU has scored in a conference

During the Miner’s Bowl, the Gorillas broke the MIAA’s single-season points record, having 539. The previous record of 537 was set in 2000 by Northwest Missouri State University in 11 games. PSU has 3 games left in its regular season.

“Records that are set during the course of a competitive ball game are very impressive,” said Kirby Cannon, head football coach at the university of Missouri-Rolla. “Records that are set as the result of an imbalance in competition aren’t.”

Cannon said PSU has had four or five games where the discussion of running up the scores came up.

“Running up the scores is very disrespectful to your opponent,” Cannon said. “It’s something that’s sometimes hard to prove. Coaches that do it really just don’t respect who they’re playing, and they don’t respect the possibility that they could be on the other end of that score at some point.”

Cannon’s Miners lost in Rolla to PSU 91-27 on Sept. 25.

Cannon said he didn’t question that game because PSU was only able to bring its first and second string. He did, however, question one play.

“We were down 63 to seven, stopped them on a third down, and they perceived to fake a punt on fourth down at 63 to seven,” he said.

Cannon said the Miners stopped the fake, and the Gorillas did not score on the drive. He said he still wondered “why?”‘

He said the NCAA tries to promote sportsmanship, and running scores up are a violation of that.

“In the long run, it just doesn’t impress anybody,” Cannon said.

The NCAA has a broad principle that is related to sportsmanship. There is, however, no specific legislation dealing with teams running up scores in the by-laws.

Not every coach believes PSU is playing in an unsportsmanlike manner.

Ray Richards, head football coach at Southwest Baptist University, said he just believes PSU is just a good team.

“I don’t really think intentionally think they’re running the scores up,” Richards said. “They just keep on scoring.”

He said the Gorillas are not “calling the dogs off,” but they just have a lot of talent.

Both Cannon and Ware also agreed about the skill of the Gorillas.

“We have respect for them as a team,” Cannon said. “They’re a tremendous team offensively and defensively.”

“I respect their football program,” Ware said. “I just don’t agree with how they go about their business in terms of running up scores. That’s my only problem with them; it’s not ill will towards Pittsburg State.”

Broyles was contacted for this story but declined to comment. Attempts to reach other MIAA coaches were unsuccessful.