Florida coach Dan Mullen came to the defense of Marco Wilson on Sunday after the defensive back's unsportsmanlike conduct penalty contributed to a stunning 37-34 Gators loss to LSU the day prior.
Wilson unfathomably threw an LSU player's shoe in the final minutes of the game, resulting in the drive-extending penalty. It came after the Gators had already forced a third-down stop at the Tigers' 29-yard line; had he not thrown the shoe, Florida would have had the ability to run out the clock and end the game with a go-ahead field goal. Instead, LSU took advantage of the free first down to kick that field goal itself later on in the drive.
While Wilson shouldn't be blamed for the loss, his penalty was regardless wild and formative to the final score of the game:
Florida was flagged with unsportsmanlike conduct after this play: pic.twitter.com/BBsmOu64j9— ESPN (@espn) December 13, 2020
Mullen, as coaches do, tried to defend his player in the aftermath. But he may have been too generous to Wilson in his summation of the incident: Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Mullen called his penalty a "football move" with no intent to taunt LSU.
"I went back to watch the play and he made the tackle and part of the football move, the kid's shoe was in his hand and he kind of threw it and jumped and celebrated with his teammates," Mullen told reporters (via Matt Zenitz). "I don't think there was any intent to taunt and it wasn't like he was throwing it at their sidelines or doing any of that."
Regardless of what Mullen wants to call it, it did have a big impact on the final score of the game. This is certainly a teaching moment for Wilson, who no doubt feels terrible for his role in the Gators' loss.
That said, if it looks like a shoe and flies through the air like a shoe, it's a shoe. Or in this case, a clear and obvious penalty.