"I went (to the tire dealer) and needed some tires and couldn't get a hold of my family. I called a friend, a good friend of mine, and used his card to hold the tires until my mom showed up. She showed up about 30 minutes to an hour later. I was leaving the store as she was pulling in. She paid for the tires and has a cash receipt for the tires. That's about it."
Why did you have to have the credit card to hold the tires? Wouldn't the dealer give you the benefit of doubt and say ok, these are yours.
"What place do you know that would do that?"
You say the guy was a friend of yours. Was he a friend prior to the time you started school at State or after you became a student-athlete at State?
"When I first got up here, he was a guy that I met and began to talk to him about hunting, fishing...what have you."
Why did you wait until now to talk about the incident?
"I was still stunned. I was still trying to figure out what was the big deal."
When did you realize what happened might have been inappropriate and maybe I should go and tell coach about this?
"We have our (compliance) meeting every year with Dr. Boles and the (compliance office) about stuff like this. Even at the time, I didn't think I had violated any (NCAA) rules. He said something about loaning something, so I told coach and even coach didn't think there was a big deal. I really didn't know it was a big deal until (the suspension) happened."
Were you surprised that it resulted in a suspension?
"I am still surprised, but it is over with now. It is pretty much a dead issue. I can't get that game back, so I might as well look forward."
How soon beforehand did you know you weren't getting on the plane?
"Probably an hour."
Who told you you weren't going to get on the plane?
What was your reaction?
"I was stunned. Basically, I stayed on the practice field forever trying to figure out what I did wrong. There are no other words to say it other than that I was stunned."
What was it like Friday waiting to get the word about whether you would or would not be able to play in the game?
"It was hard. Friday, everything didn't happen until that evening. It was just a waiting process. After working hard all summer and you are waiting for one little answer, you can imagine how it felt for me."
Were your mom and dad in Eugene already?
How hard was that?
"My mom was upset."
When did they come home?
"After the game. They love Mississippi State, too."
Where did you watch the game?
"In my house. My brother (Robby) came up and watched it with me."
What was it like having to watch the game instead of playing in it?
"That was the hardest thing. You work hard all summer with your teammates and then all of a sudden it all ends. You aren't making the trip. It was a stunner for me and my teammates as well. Knowing that you should have been there playing...it is a hard thing."
Was it at all awkward coming back after this happened? Do you feel the guys embraced you right away?
"I think so. Pretty much everybody knows my story."
What is the best Kevin Fant joke you have heard about this incident?
"(Laugh) I've heard a lot. Michelin man...I've heard them all. I'm just a laid back guy, so it doesn't really bother me."
Were they Michelin?
"(Laugh) They weren't."
Did you think when this thing occurred that with all the other NCAA stuff that had happened, did it ever cross your mind that this looks bad?
"Yeah, it looked bad with all the rumors and stuff. But I know in my heart that I paid for those tires."
Since this has happened, how difficult has it made it for you to know what you can and can't do?
"Dr. Boles and the (compliance office) do a good job of telling us the rules. But there are so many rules - little, small things - that I have just realized about. You now have to really watch yourself. Basically, from now on, when I do anything, I am going to be asking questions."
Did you ever feel, while you were back here, that you let your teammates down?
"Yeah, I put myself in their shoes. Everybody is pumped up waiting on the big game, then all of a sudden the starting quarterback is not playing. That is kind of like being hurt the first play of the game and you have to make a change all of a sudden. I'm sure it was a stunner to them. I hate that I let the team down. I have already apologized to Mississippi State and the NCAA. I deeply am sorry for what I have done."
Do you think the NCAA is a little picky at times?
"They have to be, because there are a lot of things that can go on. I think that mine was minor, but there are a lot of things going on that they have to be strict about. The NCAA does a great job."
Kevin, is it hard for you to believe so much was made of the story?
"Basically, if I knew all this was going to happen, I would have stayed at home. I can't even remember why I was in such a hurry to get back up (to State)."
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page (http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com), the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. You can contact him by email at email@example.com.