Finding fresh storylines for a rematch can be tough. While Lane Kiffin has been stuck with the yeoman’s load as far as making the lead-up to this year’s college football title game interesting, a couple Clemson defenders have made clear they’re ready to carry the torch, at least for today.
This wonderful story starts in Saturday’s semifinal clash between the Tigers and Ohio State. With two minutes left in the opening quarter and Clemson leading 10-0, Ohio State wideout Curtis Samuels was tackled for a short gain on first down. Star defensive lineman Christian Wilkins didn’t make the play, but because he was about a step behind, he stumbled over the pile of bodies. The future NFL draft pick stopped his fall by grabbing Samuels’s butt; Wilkins proceeded to grab lower on Samuels, seemingly grabbing his crotch before heading back to the Clemson huddle. Here’s the grab in question:
Wilkins’s actions got some play on Twitter and around various pockets of the blogosphere, but that was about it. It did not become “The Grab,” nor did it result in a mass of people storming Death Valley with pitchforks calling for a suspension or Wilkins’s head.
The reason this is resurfacing four days later is because some reporters (brilliantly) thought to ask Clemson linebacker Ben Boulware about Wilkins getting caught, and also about the general practice of grabbing, groping, and poking that occurs over the course of a game. The vocal senior took up for his teammate, as was expected. Then he went on to talk about butts and how to grab them for two minutes, saying while he has “never done it as aggressively” (he claimed he’s more of a belly button poker), Wilkins’s grab was not a big deal. You can and should watch the full interview, posted here in all its glory by The State; here are a few choice excerpts, complete with tips on how to be a “little fox” and correctly poke butts:
That’s something we’ve done all year to mess with player. No one’s probably done it as aggressive as Christian did. We try to be a little more discreet about it and just poke somebody, but he definitely grabbed a handful. I did it against USC. The dude tweeted it. I just poked him in the butt. Like, it’s just something we do to mess with players, break up the seriousness of the game.
I’ve never done it as aggressively as Christian did it, I’ll just poke them. It’s gained some unwanted attention. I don’t think Coach Swinney—we would just make fun of Christian. He’s not going to suspend Christian for grabbing a dude’s butt. Like, it’s not really that big of a deal. It’s just kind of annoying.
You kinda gotta to be a little fox about it and poke em real quick. And I know this is probably going to blow up, and everyone’s going to think I’m a sexual predator because I poke guys in the butt now. It’s just we play football together for hours and hours every day, in the locker room, bored. We don’t sit in the locker room poking each other’s butt, we’re just together all day and get comfortable around everybody. It is what it is. Our defense, we’re good, we also like to have fun out there. I just wish Christian didn’t do it as aggressively as he did. He needs to be more discreet about it.
Boulware spoke more on the subject, according to Sports Illustrated’s Brian Hamilton, giving the old, “If you didn’t do it, it’s because you were LAME” speech this time around, which is very on-brand for him.
I know there’s going to be one person: “Well, I played football and I never did that.’ You either sucked at football, you had no friends in the locker room, or you were the person that went in the bathroom stall to go change because you were scared to shower with the team.
Yes, Christian went — he went about four fingers deep. He went a little too far. But when I’m just messing with somebody, poking them in the belly button or grabbing someone’s butt, it’s just to break up the seriousness of the game. The people who are freaking out about that have never played the game, or were just losers who didn’t have any friends when they played the game. It’s annoying.
Per Hamilton, here’s Swinney’s response when asked whether he spoke with Wilkins after being notified of his grabbing of Samuels:
Yep. Sure did. I mean, I think he said it best. Just being goofy. You guys know Christian. He’s a guy that can be a little silly at times. We don’t have a better young man on the team than Christian Wilkins. Apolgized for it, apologized to the kid, that’s really it.
The national title game is still five days away and we’ve already been gifted an exiled, in-denial Lane Kiffin and ButtGate. At this point, I couldn’t give a rat’s ass if the actual game is any good.