In his first six months on the job, Florida State football coach Mike Norvell has won nearly universal approval from people inside and around the Seminoles’ program.
Today, he apparently will deal with his first major misstep. And it’s a big one.
During an interview this week with The Athletic, Norvell reportedly said he communicated “individually” with every player on his team about racial injustice and inequality following the police killing of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, last week in Minneapolis.
Early Thursday morning, team leader Marvin Wilson posted on Twitter that such conversations never took place.
Wilson added that he and his teammates will not continue participating in the team’s voluntary workouts, which started on Monday, “until further notice.”
“We got a generated text that was sent to everybody. There was no one on one talk between us and coach,” the senior defensive tackle tweeted. “This is a lie and me and my teammates as a whole are outraged and we will not be working out until further notice.”
Wilson’s comments were then retweeted by numerous players on the team and quickly went viral. Within about five hours, it had been retweeted more 3,500 times and “liked” nearly 10,000 more.
Man this 💩 did not happen mane. We got a generated text that was sent to everybody. There was no one on one talk between us and coach. This is a lie and me and my teammates as a whole are outraged and we will not be working out until further notice 💯 #hunchoout https://t.co/6Uuy6K7Eu3
— HEAD HUNCHO💧 (@marvinwilson21) June 4, 2020
Likely because Wilson’s post was made after midnight, there has been no public response from the university or Norvell, who is in his first season after a stellar four-year run at Memphis.
But Wilson’s tweet was still active several hours later, so the situation clearly was not quickly resolved.
Athletic reporter Tashan Reed, who posted Norvell’s original comments on Tuesday, responded to the controversy early Thursday morning on social media by confirming that the coach’s statement was made during a telephone interview and that it was recorded.
Since being hired in December, Norvell has received virtually across-the-board praise from players and university staff members for his work on the field and in dealing with various other aspects of the program.
His first major victory came shortly after getting the job, when he convinced Wilson and star receiver Tamorrion Terry to return for another season instead of declaring for the 2020 NFL Draft. Both players said they wanted to help turn the program around after three consecutive sub-par seasons and that they believed in Norvell’s vision.
Since then, it has been an entirely happy honeymoon period, with players buying in to Norvell’s offseason conditioning program, the team posting its highest grade-point average ever during the spring semester, and a run of recent success on the recruiting trail.
Norvell, 38, was introduced as FSU’s head coach on Dec. 8 after a search that lasted several weeks to replace former head coach Willie Taggart. During his four years at Memphis, Norvell posted a 38-15 record and led the Tigers to an American Athletic Conference championship and a Cotton Bowl berth in 2019.
Norvell is not the first prominent college football coach to become embroiled in controversy this week as protests calling for racial justice and equality have taken place in cities across the nation, including Tallahassee.
Former Clemson player Kanyon Tuttle publicly criticized head coach Dabo Swinney on Tuesday for not supporting his African-American players and for not disciplining an assistant coach who used a racial slur during a practice. The assistant coach, Danny Pearman, has since issued a public apology.
Warchant has reached out to FSU seeking comment from Norvell on Wilson’s statement.
Stay connected with Warchant.com for more on this story.