University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football coach Russ Huesman spoke at length Wednesday about quarterback Terrell Robinson's decision Tuesday to quit the team.
With the local media around him before practice at Scrappy Moore Field, Huesman, who said very little on Tuesday, made it clear he tried to talk Robinson out of his decision. Huesman also expressed regret that his son, Jacob, was caught in the middle of the situation - one that has some angry fans attacking the fourth-year coach.
"I'm going to take a beating because his last name is Huesman," he said. "I understand that and I don't mind. Beat me up all you want. He's a great kid and a good football player."
Added Huesman later: "Nobody wanted [Robinson] to leave. Nobody. ... It was his decision and any rumors, speculation that there's anything other than that is completely, completely false. Terrell has been a great kid for this program."
Robinson, the former South Pittsburg High School star that earned Southern Conference co-freshman of the year honors last season, stunned the Mocs by quitting the team Tuesday. Robinson and Jacob, a redshirt freshman, had been in a battle for the starting quarterback job since last spring, with Robinson always having the slight edge.
"Did [Jacob] have Terrell beat out? No, and Terrell knew that," Huesman said.
It was Robinson that started in the opener against South Florida last week, though Jacob wound up with more runs and passing attempts.
"They both had good camps, they both deserved to play and Terrell didn't want it that way, I guess," Huesman said.
Huesman said he met with Robinson for three hours Tuesday and tried to talk him out of quitting. He said he told Robinson, who could not be reached for comment Wednesday, that it was a bad decision.
"Sometimes people make decisions, in my opinion it's not the best decision, but they make decisions [based on] what they feel is best for them and their families," Huesman said. "And I respect that, so we move on from here."
The Mocs (0-1) move on with Jacob as the starting quarterback heading into Saturday's game at No. 24 Jacksonville State (0-1). Redshirt junior Graham Nichols is the backup and senior running back Chris Awuah, who played quarterback in high school, will be the emergency No. 3.
There will be some "tweaks" to the offense with just Jacob running the show, Huesman said, "but for the most part this is our offense and we're going to run it."
Huesman did not make his son available to the media, nor were any of the players allowed to talk to the media about Robinson's departure. Nichols was made available to discuss his new role as the backup. Nichols signed with UTC when the Mocs were running a pro-style offense and isn't the dual threat that Robinson and Jacob Huesman are.
Still, he said he'll be ready if needed.
"That's been my role this whole time, to come in whenever I'm needed and it hasn't changed much [after Tuesday]," said Nichols, who started in UTC's win at Samford last season.
Should he change his mind, Robinson might be able to return to the team. Huesman said if Robinson asks to return and the team agrees to welcome him back, he can return.
If he doesn't return and wants to transfer to another school, he will need a release from UTC. Huesman said no decision has been made regarding Robinson's release.
Asked if Jacob was ready to be the starter and leader of the offense, Huesman quickly answered yes.
"We wouldn't have put him in the game [last] Saturday if we didn't think he was ready to play," he said. "Now, how he plays, I'm not sure. He's ready - he's physically ready to play, he's mentally ready to play."
Jacksonville State will be running back Washaun Ealey was suspended for violating team rules after getting arrested on drug charges Tuesday. Ealey, who suffered a minor knee injury last week, rushed for 1,082 yards last season.