By Jon Herskovitz
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - The Texas high school football coach suspected of directing his players to blindside an official in a game denied he ordered the hit and told a investigative panel on Thursday he wants to clear his name.
John Jay High School secondary coach Mack Breed said he made comments that included profanities in anger about an official's call in the game last month while on the sidelines but that they were not directed at any players on his team. A few plays later, two players on the team ran over the official.
"If they were in that area and they heard that, maybe they took action on that. That is what is kind of eating me up in that situation," Breed told a panel from the governing body for school sports in Texas, the University Interscholastic League.
The panel suspended Breed from coaching for the rest of the 2015-16 football season for his outburst, saying it reflected poorly on his role in guiding young athletes, but added he deserved a second chance to coach.
A video clip viewed millions of times on YouTube of the game between John Jay and Marble Falls High School shows two John Jay defensive backs lining up behind the official, with one running into him from behind and the other driving into him just after he was knocked down.
The two players were ejected from the game, which John Jay lost, 15-9. The video led to a national debate about violence in sports at the high school level.
Brian Woods, the superintendent of Northside Independent School District, which oversees John Jay, had told the panel at a previous meeting in September that Breed made comments to the coaches after the game that he may have been responsible for the players' actions.
Breed, who has lost his job at the school, said at the hearing that after the game he told coaches that he made angry comments on the sidelines about a call and felt some responsibility for the incident.
"I love coaching football in the state of Texas. I love teaching young kids," Breed said. "As far as the cussing, that needs to stop."
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Bill Trott)