The Citadel has indefinitely suspended guard Victor Hill, who in an online post Sunday wrote that the Bulldogs' offensive line was intentionally "going for the knees" in Saturday's game against No. 1 Florida State, which lost three defensive linemen to injury during its 37-12 win.
In a release published on The Citadel's athletics website, Bulldogs coach Mike Houston announced Hill, a 6-foot-2, 275-pound senior, was suspended for "inappropriate comments he made on social media." In the comments section of a Post and Courier article focusing on Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher's thoughts on the Bulldogs' cut-blocking techniques, Hill wrote that he "contributed to the injury list and that was just the mindset going into the game."
"I am very disappointed in the words chosen by Victor Hill, who is a member of The Citadel football program," Houston said in a statement posted Monday. "After speaking at length on multiple occasions with Victor and careful review of video footage of our game from this past Saturday night, I have found no purposeful intent to injure from Vic ... or by any other member of our football program."
Houston, in his first season as coach, said Hill is a "morally good person" and would rejoin the team "when he successfully demonstrates that he can abide and live by the core values that should be demonstrated by any individuals who have the privilege to represent The Citadel and our football program."
The Bulldogs' next game is Sept. 20 against Charleston Southern.
In the first half of Saturday's game, Florida State lost starting defensive tackles Eddie Goldman and Nile Lawrence-Stample as well as reserve Justin Shanks to lower-leg injuries. Fisher did not provide any updates in his postgame news conference, but Goldman was seen after the game with a walking boot on his left foot and needing the help of a cane to walk off the field. The Seminoles are off Saturday before hosting No. 23 Clemson on Sept. 20.
Fisher did not insinuate any foul play on the Bulldogs' part after Saturday's win, but he did say he plans to avoid scheduling future games against teams that rely on cut blocking.
"Nothing illegal about it, but that's just football," Fisher said Saturday. "I'd rather play more conventional teams just because the chance of the injuries that occur."
Fisher maintained that stance Tuesday after having watched film and heard Hill's comments.
"That's how that offense blocks. We cut people, too. That offense cuts," he said. "I don't think they were deliberately trying to do stuff. There are always questionable blocks when you play a team like that. A lot of our guys who got injured, people fell into them. They weren't all cut blocks, things like that. There were a couple that were questionable, but that's always in every game. I don't think they're coached that way and I don't think their players are that way. I don't buy all that.
"I've talked to their coach, and we had a great conversation. They don't teach that, and I don't think that's indicative of them. They have a great program and things happen and kids do things. If you hold a whole program hostage to what one young man says all the time, then it's like if you have 10 brothers and sisters and one guy's a knucklehead, he does something or says something, your whole family is tainted. That's not how they're coached."
A few Florida State players felt differently about possible foul play, including star defensive end Mario Edwards Jr.
"I don't think they were necessarily taught to do high-low [blocks], but it's the heat of the game and they're supposed to try and get their guy, or they get messed up and they do a high-low," Edwards said. "But they did it numerous times, and I didn't feel like the ref was calling it."
Houston said Monday that The Citadel coaching staff does not condone Hill's statement and does not teach its players to purposely injure players.
"The coaches in our program teach the great game of football to be played within the rules and will never condone anyone who is trying to purposely injure an opponent," Houston said.
Hill released a statement Sunday apologizing for his comments.
"I would like to sincerely apologize for my statements this morning," Hill said in his statement. "I am both embarrassed and ashamed of my comments. They reflect in no way, shape or form how I am taught or coached to perform. I am truly sorry for my immature comments that were made out of frustration. ... I apologize to Coach Jimbo Fisher, his players and the FSU fans for my negative remarks."