While the nation debates who is more SWAC, Jackson State coach Deion Sanders or Alabama State’s Eddie Robinson Jr., the league office has been dealing with a much more serious issue this week.

The SWAC is investigating a fight that broke out between the Prairie View and Southern football teams prior to their matchup Saturday at Panther Stadium and disciplinary actions may be taken. The scuffle between the two SWAC West Division foes during pregame warmups precipitated a spirited matchup that ended with the Jaguars scoring 35 unanswered second-half points to rally to a 45-13 win over the Panthers.

The SWAC office confirmed Thursday morning that it is probing the fight that involved several players in the middle of the football field.

“The conference office along with the two respective member institutions are collectively reviewing video footage of the altercation in order to positively identify all participants,” the SWAC office said in a press release. “In addition to investigating the altercation, the conference office is also currently reviewing the game day security protocols that were in place for the respective contest.”

Normally, such an incident might only take a day or two to decide on a punishment for those involved but the SWAC office confirmed that it has been hard to identify all of the players because most were not wearing jerseys at that point.

“Due to the lack of ability to identify all participants by using uniform jersey numbers, along with the limited number of high-quality camera angles available for review, this investigation has taken additional time in order to ensure thoroughness in regard to accurately determining all individuals that were active participants,” the league said.

The SWAC hasn’t set a timetable for completing its investigation but vows to get to the bottom of what happened and dole out the proper punishments once the investigation is complete.

“The Southwestern Athletic Conference upholds an extremely high standard of good sportsmanship and does not condone unsportsmanlike behavior,” the SWAC office said in the release. “We will continue to work diligently to provide our member institutions with the necessary guidance and resources to support good sportsmanship and healthy competition at all times.”  

Immediately following the game Saturday night, first-year Prairie View coach Bubba McDowell said it was his understanding that the fight between the teams started when Southern players went to the middle of the Blackshear Field and began stomping on the PV logo in the middle of the field. That’s when the pushing and shoving led to blows being thrown by both sides.

“It was just one of those disrespect things where you are not supposed to go to another home team and stand on the middle of the field and stomp on their symbol,” McDowell said to The Defender following the game Saturday night. “Guys got a little teed off about that, as well as they should because that is a little disrespectful.

“If you are going to do it on one school, why don’t you do it against other schools?” continued McDowell, referring to Southern’s 65-17 loss to their crosstown SEC neighbor earlier this season. “You didn’t do it against LSU when you went there.”

The Prairie View-Southern matchup was bound to be snippy because first-year coach Eric Dooley left his head coaching post at Prairie View to his Louisiana roots and Southern last year after leading the Panthers to the West title and a berth in the SWAC Championship Game. Dooley had recruited many of the players still on the PV roster as well had hired several members of the Panthers’ coaching staff, including McDowell.

On Monday, Dooley mostly downplayed the melee that took place.

“I just thought it was a great football game for to even bring up things like that,” Dooley said during the SWAC media call. “I’m an HBCU guy, there is no question about that. We understand what took place. You are talking about young individuals that we are building into quality young men once they graduate. I don’t get into the negative things, I’m a very positive guy so far as talking about that, I think it’s too many football questions that can be asked and talked about a well-played football game on both sides of the ball.”

McDowell, who remains good close friends with Dooley, was still upset Monday at what had transpired before and during the game. He especially took issue with the fact that he didn’t feel the Southern coaches attempted to calm their players or intervene in the fight.

“I would love to have come downstairs and to (have seen) as many coaches in there to minimize players getting hurt or throwing blows,” said McDowell, whose team suffered its first SWAC loss of the season. “One of our kids got hit blindsided. I don’t know who the kid was who did it from Southern but it’s going to be looked at.

“Again testosterone (was) flying around.”

McDowell said he reached out to former PV defensive lineman Jason Dumas, who now plays for Southern, to see if he could provide some insight into what transpired or what led to the fight. Apparently, he didn’t learn much from the phone call.

“He was like,` Coach I don’t want to say anything,’” McDowell said. “He didn’t want to snitch on anybody. He said, `Coach, it’s over with. It’s done with. We were going at each other, and I just want to leave it at that, the game is over with.’ I said, `Okay, I respect that.’ But at the end of the day I will find out what’s going on.

“I’m pretty sure we are going to hear from the SWAC office later on as they continue to look at the video.”

McDowell had not heard from the SWAC office when he met with the media on Monday but he fully expected he would. Dooley, meanwhile, was preferring to look ahead.

“The only thing I expect to do is prepare for the next game,” whose team hosts Alcorn State on Saturday. “Things take place. I just think … Even as adults we focus on that are not important right now. We understand that things are going to take place, but what about, how was the third quarter or what happened in the fourth quarter, how did the guys respond? You could see that the emotions were there but at the end of the game, just from experience …

“We move forward. I never look in the review mirror. That windshield is a lot larger, so I look out that windshield window and keep moving forward.”

Follow Terrance Harris on Twitter @terranceharris