The Memphis Tigers may not have accomplished much in Wednesday’s 31-10 Birmingham Bowl loss to Auburn, but they did steal the post-game headlines from their fellow Tigers thanks to the actions of defensive back Reggis Ball. Ball, who had two interceptions during the game (including Memphis’ only touchdown on a pick-six), ran over to the Auburn sideline afterwards, tackled a manager, stole a game balls, and ran away while flipping the finger to the crowd:
Things got really weird – and physical – at the end of today's #BirminghamBowl.
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) December 30, 2015
Ball also showed a predisposition towards ball theft earlier in the game, running away from the referee after his pick-six. While his two-interception showing may have been the highlight of the day for Memphis, he didn’t impress his coaches with his post-game actions; the Tigers announced Wednesday evening that they’d removed him from the team.
That’s perhaps not all that consequential, as Ball was a senior playing in his last game, but it does keep him from attending Memphis’ pro day. It’s also an odd way to end his career, and it might hurt his prospects of playing professionally. Those may not have been that high in the first place; he’s listed as only 5’11” and 210 pounds, and he only had three interceptions this year before the bowl. Still, this isn’t a great way for him to go out. It’s also not a good look for Memphis, which infamously got into a brawl with BYU after winning last year’s Miami Beach Bowl. Tigers’ athletic director Tom Bowen issued a strong statement condemning Ball’s actions Wednesday night:
“I want to personally apologize to Jay Jacobs, Gus Malzahn, the Auburn football team, its fans and the Birmingham Bowl for the highly-inappropriate actions of one of my student-athletes regarding a game ball at the end of Wednesday’s game,” Memphis athletic director Tom Bowen said in a statement. “This player’s actions are totally unacceptable. He has been immediately removed from the team and we will continue to move swiftly in addressing what occurred.
“I consulted with University of Memphis President M. David Rudd and have spoken to both incoming head coach Mike Norvell and interim head coach Darrell Dickey and they completely support my decision.”
It’s also notable that there may be potential legal implications for Ball if the tackled Auburn manager files a police complaint:
Birmingham police department chief A.C. Roper, who was sent the video of the incident, told AL.com the Auburn equipment manager has not filed a police report.
“He may decide to allow the school to handle it,” Roper told AL.com, “but the legal system can be utilized if he chooses.”
So, we may not have heard the last of StolenBallGate yet.