OSU LB K’Vaughan Pope Leaves Sideline During Akron Game After Exchanges With Coaches

Adam WellsSeptember 26, 2021

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 9:  K'Vaughan Pope #36 of the Ohio State Buckeyes stiff arms Javon Leake #20 of the Maryland Terrapins after intercepting a pass in the third quarter at Ohio Stadium on November 9, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State defeated Maryland 73-14.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Ohio State linebacker K’Vaughan Pope left the sidelines in the second half of Saturday's game against Akron. 

Per Joey Kaufman of the Columbus Dispatch, a Buckeyes official escorted Pope to the locker room after he got into a heated discussion with a coach on the sidelines. Bill Landis of The Athletic reported Pope had exchanges with both head coach Ryan Day and linebackers coach Al Washington.

According to Kaufman, the Big Ten Network reported Pope was unhappy when he wasn't substituted into the game for a defensive series. 

Per Landis, Pope tweeted and deleted "fucc Ohio State" after going to the locker room.

Though he deleted the original tweet, Pope posted another message to offer support to his teammates:

K’Vaughan Pope @VonP04

good lucc to my teammates 💯

Austin Ward of Lettermen Row tweeted about the incident, while adding that Pope appears to have quit the football team:

Austin Ward @AWardSports

Pope tried to run out on the field in a sub package. Teradja Mitchell waved him off, and Pope stormed down the sideline, started walking to the tunnel and then had to be coaxed back by an Ohio State staffer. He tossed his gloves into the stands and took off his jersey.

After the Buckeyes finished their 59-7 victory, Day told reporters he was "going to get the details before I say anything." Per Bill Rabinowitz of the Columbus DIspatch, Day doesn't believe the Pope situation is a sign of a larger problem within the program:

Bill Rabinowitz @brdispatch

Day said he doesn't believe the Pope incident is indicative of a larger problem with the team. Said he believes it stems from playing time and the frustration that kicks in when players don't get it.

A senior linebacker, Pope is in his fourth season at Ohio State. The Virginia native appeared in 11 games during his college career prior to Saturday night. He has been used primarily as a role player, recording 19 total tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss. 

Pope was a member of Ohio State's 2018 recruiting class that was ranked second in the nation by 247Sports' composite rankings. He was a 4-star recruit coming out of Dinwiddie County High School in Virginia. 

Tommy Eichenberg has been the Buckeyes' starting "Mike" linebacker so far this season. Pope has been used as the primary backup through the first three games. 

Losing Pope for Saturday's game against Akron didn't have an impact on Ohio State. The Buckeyes held a 52-7 lead in the fourth quarter. 

It's unclear at this point if Pope has quit the team or if he briefly lost his cool in the heat of the moment and will be back with the Buckeyes for their next game against Rutgers on Oct. 2.