A football player with the University of Southern California apologized Monday evening after posting messages on Twitter complaining about having to play at this year's Hyundai Sun Bowl.
USC linebacker Tony Burnett on his Twitter account posted messages that elicited a strong response from El Pasoans on the social micro-blogging site.
USC plays Georgia Tech of the Atlantic Coast Conference at noon Dec. 31 in the 79th annual Sun Bowl.
"Georgia Tech!? El Paso, Texas!? New Years Eve!? FML," Burnett stated on his Twitter account, @NoCutz. FML is slang meaning "(expletive) my life."
The account is under the name Benjamin S. Button but has a photo of Burnett and is listed as Burnett's account on the USC athletics website.
Burnett, a 22-year-old former walk-on player from Watts, Calif., in other messages said that no one wants to be in El Paso on New Year's Eve and "if you never seen a real life giant tumbleweed get ready."
The Trojans must not have seen any tumbleweeds in Tucson when they lost to the Arizona Wildcats this year.
After blowback on social media for his comments about El Paso, Burnett temporarily shut down his Twitter account before sending out apologies.
"Earlier today I made some tweets I regret. To the city of El Paso and representatives of the Hyundai Sun Bowl, I apologize for my remarks," Burnett stated.
"My team and I are grateful for the opportunity to play in our first bowl game in three years ... and we are appreciative of all of the hard work that goes into making the game happen," he stated. "What I tweeted was not representative of my team or my university. I sincerely apologize and hope my apology is taken at its word."
USC has not played in a bowl game the past two seasons due to NCAA sanctions. The Trojans started this season ranked No. 1 but finished with a 7-5 record, including losses to rivals UCLA and Notre Dame.
Trojans head coach Lane Kiffin had said his team is looking forward to the Sun Bowl and that he expects senior star quarterback Matt Barkley to play after missing the regular season finale with a sprained shoulder.
Georgia Tech lost in the ACC Championship game and because of its 6-7 record had to get a waiver to play in its second-consecutive Sun Bowl. The Yellow Jackets lost a thriller to Utah in last year's bowl.
"It doesn't bother us what people are saying before they get here," Sun Bowl executive director Bernie Olivas. "It's what they say after they leave, after they experience El Paso (and) after they experience the hospitality.
"I heard negative comments before people get here. I have never heard anything negative after people leave," Olivas said.
The Twitter controversy was a bit of a flashback to 1998 when the Trojans last played in the Sun Bowl against then lightly-regarded Texas Christian University, a 16-point underdog who had not won a bowl game since 1957. The Horned Frogs ended up beating USC 28-19.
Daniel Borunda may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 546-6102. Follow him on Twitter @BorundaDaniel.