FSU lineman Parker defends Annese

SIDELINED: Ferris State football coach Tony Annese will return to practice on Thursday after serving an eight-day suspension related to a locker room incident. (Pioneer file photo)

SIDELINED: Ferris State football coach Tony Annese will return to practice on Thursday after serving an eight-day suspension related to a locker room incident. (Pioneer file photo)

BIG RAPIDS — “The incident” has been blown out of proportion, Ferris State football player Sam Parker says.

The senior offensive lineman came to the defense of his head coach, Tony Annese, who recently was suspended for a “locker room incident” during halftime of the Bulldogs’ road contest against Michigan Tech. Annese was issued an eight-day suspension for the incident, forcing him to miss FSU’s 42-10 win over Northwood on Saturday.

The incident, Parker said, stemmed from the team’s uninspired first half play against Michigan Tech on Oct. 26, falling behind to the Huskies at the half, 21-10.

During the first half, Parker noted that a player was being disrespectful to the rest of the team on the sideline. That player has since apologized for his actions to the team, Parker added.

As the Bulldogs went into the locker room at halftime, Parker said Annese went into the defense’s side of the room to confront the player that was being disrespectful, hitting him on each side of his shoulder pads while trying to motivate to the player to join the team.

“You’ve seen it at 100 different times in 100 different places,” Parker said of the seemingly normal nature of the motivational tactic. “(Coach Annese) was just saying to the player, ‘come on, are you with or against us?'”

Annese then hit three other players on the team in the should pads in a similar fashion, Parker said, comparing it to a pair of players pushing one another to motivate each other in the weight room.

“It’s insane to me,” Parker said of how much attention the incident has received. “Football is a different game. Between those white lines it gets intense out there and sometimes that carries over into the locker room.”

After addressing the four defensive players, Annese went to the offensive side of the locker room, where he proceeded to throw a white board, followed by a backpack against a locker.

Parker said Annese followed by saying “If that doesn’t get them motivated, I don’t know what will.”

Both Annese and the university have not addressed the incident since releasing a statement detailing the suspension on Wednesday.

FSU went on to win the game, 30-27, outscoring the Huskies 20-6 in the second half.

That’s important to note, Parker said of a win that was the Bulldogs’ first in Houghton since 1998.

“After the game, we as players were talking about how great of a motivational talk it was,” he said. “We weren’t even thinking it was a serious issue. At the time it seemed like a great football story.

“When you get enough guys talking about that speech, though, the ‘powers that be’ hear about it and say ‘we’ve got to talk to (Annese) about that.'”

Parker said Ferris State’s zero-tolerance policy for that type of contact with a player was what resulted in the suspension.

The team has responded with a win against Northwood under the guidance of assistant head coach/offensive line coach Rob Zeitman. Annese will be reinstated by FSU on Thursday.

Even with the absence of their head coach, Parker said the team has remained behind Annese as the regular season finale approaches for the 7-3 Bulldogs.

“None of the players have hard feelings for coach Annese,” he said. “Some of the players even had headbands with the T.A. initials on them for the game against Northwood.”

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