A handshake had a hand in Kentucky’s victory on Saturday night at South Carolina.
More accurately: The lack of a handshake.
When Kentucky’s four captains, Nick Haynes, Mike Edwards, Stephen Johnson and Courtney Love, met with the Gamecocks captains (Hayden Hurst, Deebo Samuel, D.J. Wonnum and D.J. Smith) at midfield for the coin toss, the official told the players to shake hands.
It’s the norm at every coin toss. But not this particular coin toss.
“They don’t shake our hands to start,” Coach Mark Stoops said after the Cats’ 23-13 victory at Brice-Williams Stadium. “I’ve never seen that, the captains don’t shake our hands. They wanted to go at it, but we were ready, too.”
Edwards said it simply “added fuel to the fire.”
But that’s “definitely not what happened,” former Gamecock and USC sideline reporter Langston Moore said.
The midfield gathering started with UK’s Johnson talking smack, according to Moore, who is present for the coin toss as part of his broadcast duties for 107.5 The Game.
“DJ seemed kind of shocked that it was happening,” Moore told The State. “No. 68 from Kentucky (Haynes) extended his hand to Deebo. At that point Deebo wasn’t even looking at No. 68 with his hand extend because of Johnson’s trash talk, and that’s when players kind of started the chest bumping and trash talk, and the refs stepped in and flipped the coin.”
USC’s Will Muschamp on Sunday said he called Stoops on Sunday morning to apologize and clear the air about the incident.
It provided even more motivation for Johnson, who made sure he told his teammates about the slight.
“That just fired us up even more,” the quarterback said. “Gave us even more motivation, which was pretty stupid on their part, but they just didn’t want to shake our hands.”
It specifically got normally reserved Love going before the starting whistle.
“I was really jacked up,” Love said. “I got into the tight end’s face and told him we’re going to be here all night. They didn’t want to shake hands. I didn’t mind that.”
The State contributed to this story