Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook caused quite a bit of controversy after the Big Ten Championship last Saturday, this after snubbing Archie Griffin – the only two-time Heisman Trophy winner in college football history – during the postgame trophy presentation.
“Well, I think he got caught up in the moment,” Griffin said in studio on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “On stages like that, a lot’s gong on, you can’t hear anything, you can’t see anything, and I think he was just caught up in the moment more than anything. I didn’t really realize that it went down like that until the next morning. I started getting a lot of calls from people, and I’m saying, ‘What are they talking about?’”
Griffin presented Cook with the MVP trophy after Michigan State’s 16-13 win over Iowa, but Cook didn’t seem all that honored to receive the trophy from one of the greatest players in history. In fact, Cook didn’t accept the trophy so much as swipe it out of Griffin’s hand.
“It looked bad,” Griffin acknowledged. “It looked bad. There’s no question.”
Cook called Griffin the next day to apologize.
“He called me Sunday after I had gotten home from Indianapolis,” Griffin confirmed. “He called me, and Mark Dantonio called me as well to apologize. He was really, really apologetic, no question about it.”
Many people figured that Cook, an Ohio native, wanted nothing to do with Griffin considering that he played for Ohio State – a school that Cook isn’t particularly fond of.
“Well, you can’t take everybody,” Griffin said, when asked why the Buckeyes didn’t land Cook. “But he’s a great player. He’s done a tremendous job at Michigan State. And again, I think that situation looked a whole lot worse than it really was – because I didn’t realize it. I really didn’t until I saw the video , and (I think) that’s when he realized it.”
Either way, No. 3 Michigan State (12-1) will face No. 2 Alabama (12-1) in the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 31, while Griffin’s Buckeyes (11-1) will face No. 8 Notre Dame (10-2) in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1.
It’s hard to scoff at an 11-1 season, but the Buckeyes underperformed in 2015. Many people feel that Urban Meyer mishandled his quarterbacks in starting Cardale Jones over J.T. Barrett to begin the season. Griffin, however, thought it was the right call.
“In all honesty, I thought that he should have started Cardale,” Griffin said. “Cardale won those three games that won us a national championship. He was the only player that went all the way through spring practice because everyone else was hurt. And I thought he deserved to start because of that.”
That’s fair, but should Meyer have pulled Jones sooner than he did?
“I think he could (have),” Griffin acknowledged. “But I think Urban wanted to make sure he gave Cardale every opportunity. Because remember: Cardale had a chance to go pro last year and he made the commitment to stay at Ohio State, so I respect Urban for making sure he gave this young man every opportunity.”
As for the Heisman, Griffin did not say who he voted for, but he thinks Derrick Henry will win it. Henry scored at least one touchdown in every game this season and carried 90 times for 460 yards and two touchdowns in Alabama’s final two games – wins over Auburn and Florida.
“There’s got to be something said for a guy who can (give you) 90 carries in two games,” Griffin said. “That’s a lot. I don’t know if I would want to carry the ball 90 times in two games.”