Arkansas coach Bret Bielema defended his team Wednesday from Florida center Jonotthan Harrison's allegation that he was subjected to racial slurs during the Gators' win over the Razorbacks earlier this season.
Harrison was ejected from the Oct. 5 game, but was not made available to speak to media until Wednesday. Harrison said he was called "every version of the N-word known to man," but did not identify which Arkansas player used the slurs. Bielema, asked about the allegation on the SEC teleconference, didn't hesitate to identify the player involved with Harrison's ejection.
But, Bielema said, linebacker Jarrett Lake denied the allegation.
"I remember the player that was ejected, and the play that it happened on. I immediately called -- it was Jarrett Lake that the play actually happened on -- I asked Lake and he categorically denied anything of that nature," Bielema said. "I think if it was a big deal, I probably would have heard about it after the game, not four weeks later. I understand that player just (this week) got a chance to talk. But that wouldn't go on with our guys."
Bielema said he was on the road recruiting Tuesday, with Arkansas entering an idle week, and was alerted to Harrison's comments when an Arkansas communications official called him. Lake, a senior linebacker, is African-American. In fact, Bielema noted, so was every other player in the defensive lineup that night for the Razorbacks.
"Actually, in the Florida game, all 11 of our defensive players were African-American. I have a hard time believing that anyone on our roster would say anything along those lines without getting noticed by our own guys," he said. "I don't see an issue there."
Harrison's ejection, reportedly for making contact with an official, was followed by a heated exchange between he and a couple of UF coaches on the sideline. Harrison was not further disciplined by the SEC office.