Ruffin McNeill Reacts To Hardy Award Omission

GREENVILLE, N.C. — Justin Hardy was left off the Biletnikoff Award's list of semifinalists and ECU head coach Ruffin McNeill reacted strongly.

Justin Hardy's name was not among the 10 names that were announced semifinalists Monday for the Biletnikoff Award, which is annually awarded to the nation's best receiver. Fifth-year ECU coach Ruffin McNeill learned the news when he was asked about it at his weekly news conference.

Here are his transcribed quotes in response to the senior receiver being omitted:

“He’s not!? That’s the most idiotic thing I have ever heard in my life that they would not put that young man on there. What are you looking for? A student? He already graduated. We had an academic meeting today and tried to find out how he can make the Dean’s List. He’s getting ready to break the all-time receptions record. I’m not the smartest guy in the world, but here is a ‘C’, here is an ‘A’ and I think there’s a ‘T’ around here somewhere (and) that spells CAT. Justin Hardy isn’t on there? I don’t know who is picking that. I hope these words get back to whoever didn’t choose him and my number is right here. I’m here all day.

“That is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard. Justin Hardy (is) one of the players who has never been late and never missed anything, never complains and produces every game. If somebody asks me what tape to pick, I’ll say ‘You ask me what game to pick. You pick a tape.’ I think I’ll tell Justin that and text him when I get back up (to my office). The team is first, but what are you looking for in that award? He came to talk to the academic people about (making the Dean’s List). He’s already on the honor roll.

"On the field, he does it all – catches and blocks. I’ve been around a two-time Biletnikoff winner. That’s why I can speak without hesitation on it. I’ve watched a two-time Biletnikoff winner in Michael Crabtree. Justin is not just a candidate. If I had never been around one, seen one, coached one or talked to one, then you could shut me up. But since I have been around one, that’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard in my life. I didn’t mean to go off on that. Yes I did mean to go off on that. I don’t mean to rant, but it’s about the kids for me. We said in our all-hands-on-deck meeting that it’s about the well-being of our student-athletes. That’s what it always is.”

On If He Thinks The ECU Logo or Reputation Has Anything To Do With Justin Hardy Being Left Off The Biletnikoff Semifinalist List:

“I hope it has everything to do with the positive. This year, to have your name tossed around as a university, which means your city is tossed around with a Heisman candidate and a Biletnikoff candidate, a Lombardi candidate. To have your name publicized is an honor. Our team focus is always first, last and always. The publicity and notoriety it gives our university for how those men carry themselves is amazing.

"So, the disrespect, it’s been there before, but we conduct our athletic program, from top to bottom, with first class, and if someone doesn’t understand that, then they need to come over here and spend some time. There is respect and disrespect. When you’re young, you probably deserve some, but when you respect others then, in theory, they should respect you. And we respect all. So in turn, maybe it’s naïve, but I expect respect to our university, our athletic program and our kids. When it doesn’t happen, I’m going to stand up for them. I want somebody to challenge me on that. I’m the easiest guy to find."

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