1. Ed Oliver, perhaps the best player in college football, had been out with an injury since the Navy game, when a low block caught him in the side of the knee.
2. In Week 12, Oliver planned to sit out against Tulane (another option-heavy team that often blocks low) and return the following week against Memphis, according to ESPN’s pregame broadcast.
3. During the Tulane game, UH head coach Major Applewhite got into it with Oliver over the star DT wearing a, uh, jacket:
Ed Oliver might prefer to wear a jacket this evening. Atleast he didn’t grab his crotch. pic.twitter.com/MXJfl4mpkc— Eddie Radosevich (@Eddie_Rado) November 16, 2018
4. Did social media spend the next couple hours going wild about how long Applewhite could hang in a fight with Oliver? Yes. And the answer is: not very long. Consideration was also given to how many jackets Oliver will soon be able to buy himself in order to wear whenever he wants. The answer there: quite a pile of them.
5. Applewhite explained the situation:
Houston coach Major Applewhite addresses sideline incident involving All-America DT Ed Oliver pic.twitter.com/poz6eqeu88— Joseph Duarte (@Joseph_Duarte) November 16, 2018
A trimmed version:
We just have a rule on the sideline that guys that are participating in the games, and specifically starters, that they have jackets. You don’t want a thousand guys in a jacket when it’s only 50 degrees outside. You want guys to be tough. Some guys had ‘em early on, and I asked ‘em to take ‘em off. Ed had one, so I asked him to take it off, because I didn’t want to be unfair.
It got emotional. But he’s young. That’s what happens. He’s not playing. That’s hard. It’s difficult. I don’t wanna hold anything against anyone. I’m just gonna visit with him about it. I love it. I want him to be a part of our team. It’s really nothing more than that.
Being cold is for suckers, no matter what the fake news thermometer says. Jacket technology was invented for a reason.
More Applewhite, when asked about why Oliver didn’t come back onto the field for the second half:
I don’t really know, because when we went in at halftime, my mind was on what we gotta do because we lost our quarterback [D’Eriq King to injury]. Heard he had left. I want him to be a part of our football team. If he wants to play, I want him to play.
When you deal with 18- to 22-year-olds all the time, there’s a lot of things that are gonna happen. You’re gonna deal with emotions all the time.
6. Oliver didn’t immediately comment publicly on the specific incident, but did express some general team spirit on Twitter afterward.
7. People spent the next morning yelling at each other about whether Oliver should refuse to play over this or be suspended over this, and you’d think those people could find an easy middle ground between those two viewpoints. Maybe Oliver will just suit up against Memphis as planned? How does that sound? It seems that’s the only way to get to wear a jacket around here anyway.
8. Was it wild that a jacket in 50-degree Houston became the talk of college football for an entire Thursday night? It was.
9. Oliver and Applewhite eventually released a joint statement, burying the jacket beef:
”Last night is not who I am,” Oliver said. “I’m very passionate about the game of football and last night there was a misunderstanding. I was caught in an emotional moment. I have the utmost respect for Coach Applewhite and I appreciate the support of Coach Applewhite and my teammates during this time. I love my brothers, my team and my city and I’m looking forward to moving forward with them together. Go Coogs!”
“Ed is a passionate human being, and that is why he is the best player in the country,” Applewhite said. “Last night was not indicative of his character and it was a passionate moment within our program. We can, and we will, both learn from this situation as we move forward together.”
10. Before playing against Memphis, Oliver had some laughs with Tigers fans about the whole thing:
11. Late in the loss to Memphis, a limping Oliver was sidelined, clearly upset as the Cougars’ chance to win the division evaporated:
Many thus assumed Applewhite must have gone Tyrant Mode, but the coach chalked the situation up to Oliver’s knee.
Major Applewhite says DT Ed Oliver suffered a setback trying to come back from knee injury against SMU and set timetable back 2-3 weeks.— Joseph Duarte (@Joseph_Duarte) November 23, 2018
12. Some NFL Draft takesmith use all of this to argue against Oliver. But he clearly wanted to be on the field with his teammates, and his team was clearly worse without him.