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Top prospect Ed Oliver had to be restrained from coach who wanted his coat

Tulane v Houston

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 15: Ed Oliver #10 of the Houston Cougars watches players warm up before the game against the Tulane Green Wave at TDECU Stadium on November 15, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

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College exists to train young people for their future careers. But college football coaches still like to let their unpaid interns know who’s in charge.

Last night, future first-round pick Ed Oliver had to be restrained during a sideline confrontation with Houston coach Major Applewhite, when the coach told Oliver to take his coat off.

Oliver, who is likely to be a top-five overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, wasn’t playing, as he was out for the fourth straight game with a knee injury. But Applewhite has a rule that only active players get coats on the sideline. Apparently in Houston, only people who can help Applewhite are allowed to get cold and need a layer. The argument got heated, and Oliver had to be restrained by a staffer.

There’s a rule for our team,” Applewhite said, via Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle. “Everybody follows the rule. I want everybody to follow the rule. I asked him to follow the rule. He was upset about it, and I get it. We deal with these types of situations all the time. This is something we’re going to learn from and grow from.”

In a separate interview with ESPN, Applewhite continued to condescend.

“Just talk to him about how to respond to things – respond the way our teammates did tonight,” Applewhite said. “A lot of things happened, but they continued to fight and move on. If that’s the worst thing that happens, we’re gonna be all right. . . .

“We’re all young. I don’t blame him. I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my life, and we all need second chances. Ed will do great and he’ll be fine.”

The coach also said he told the equipment staff to remind players that coats were for active players, saying: “I’ve asked other guys to take it off. I’m trying to be fair.”

With all due respect to Applewhite (here comes the disrespect), he should put on his paid-for coat and go jump in a lake. It may be a rule, but it’s a dumb rule. In a few months, Oliver’s going to be able to buy all the outerwear he wants, and it doesn’t have to carry the logo of whatever shoe company is subsidizing Applewhite’s compensation package.

Oliver was injured on Oct. 20 when a Navy player hit him with an illegal low block. He tried to come back two weeks later, but was ruled out after experiencing discomfort in pregame warm-ups. That suggests he was willing to risk his future earning potential to play for Applewhite in a game against SMU, but Applewhite was unwilling to let him be warm while standing on his sideline in another game.

Oliver did not return to the sideline for the second half. If he was smart, he wouldn’t return to Applewhite’s fiefdom at all, because if he never plays another snap of college football, he’s going to be just fine. Like Nick Bosa at Ohio State, the college football experience has served its purpose for Oliver. The fact he doesn’t serve Applewhite’s at the moment shouldn’t bother anyone — other than the parents who would entrust future players to a coach who so strenuously objects to anyone’s star shining brighter than his own.