LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — Outside of a locker room in Reno, Nev., on Saturday, Wyoming's sophomore quarterback declined a chance to discuss in detail the two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties that caused his fourth-quarter ejection.
But this week, Brett Smith was ready. And the quarterback had lot to say.
"I can't put myself in that position, no matter how frustrated I am with what's going on," Smith said. "Despite everything I was mad about, you can't wear your emotions on your sleeve to that extent. It's a situation where you have to keep your composure, and I didn't. And I'm going to regret that for a very long time."
Smith's learning experience was a costly one. Without its starting quarterback, UW let a 28-21 lead turn into a 35-28 overtime loss to Nevada. And it could have been worse. The Mountain West Conference reviews all unsportsmanlike penalties. It could have added additional punishment if it saw fit.
The league told Wyoming on Monday that Smith's suspension would not be extended. Still, Smith said the experience made him examine the difference between playing with emotion and being overly emotional.
"That's not the player I want to be known as," Smith said. "That's not the reputation I want to be known for having. Because I'm not that type of person. When I wear my emotions on my sleeve, that comes with the territory. If I do lose my composure, and do something like that, it can come back to bite you. That's exactly what happened. I take responsibility for it. Right when things happened, I knew I was wrong. I can't let it get to that point."
The circumstances that led to Smith's ejection are debatable. While there are few questions about Smith's first unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, which he received for celebrating an 8-yard touchdown run, Wyoming coach Dave Christensen made it as clear as possible that he disagreed with the second flag.
That penalty came after Smith removed his helmet while walking off the field. Moments earlier, officials had waived a defensive holding penalty that would have resulted in a UW first down.
"I have a huge issue when you get a personal foul after scoring a touchdown, Christensen said. "I would like to think that we expect to score, so we would behave in such a way. Other than that, there is nothing else that happened that we need to talk about. There's nothing there. I can't say a whole lot, because they can suspend me and fine me. All I'm telling you is he was punished for celebrating in the end zone. He didn't do anything else."
Wyoming offensive coordinator Gregg Brandon has spoken at length about Smith's style of play. The quarterback, he says, plays with a linebacker's mentality. On Saturday that got Smith into trouble for the first time.
"You can't do that," Brandon tells the Casper Star-Tribune (http://bit.ly/Rbqawq). "Especially as a quarterback. A quarterback is held to a higher degree of accountability and responsibility than any other position on the team. You don't ask your right guard to take your team down the field. With that territory comes a set of rules that he has to understand."
Smith said he understands those rules better now.
"As the quarterback, a big thing that comes with that position is having emotional stability, because the team looks at you," he said. "If you're in a position of leadership and you're flying off the handle, what is the team supposed to do?"