Here’s something you probably didn’t know.
Quietly behind the scenes last year, the arbiters of college football’s rules used a panel that reviewed hits to the head in light of concussion concerns. The idea by College Football Officiating, LLC: Days after dangerous hits occur, recommend to conferences what, if any, punishments they should hand down to players.
The decisions were not binding from the four-person panel, which consisted of national officiating coordinator Rogers Redding and conference supervisors Bill Carollo (Big Ten), Jim Blackwood (WAC) and Jim Jackson (Ohio Valley). The results played out that way across college football.
Well, if by “played out”, you mean the panel reviewed hits and made recommendations, okay, fine. But if you mean the conferences accepted those recommendations, not so much.
According to Carollo, one play the panel recommended for a suspension was Alabama defensive end Quinton Dial’s blindside hit to the head of Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray after an interception in the SEC Championship Game. Slive acknowledged the play was “controversial.”
The SEC did not suspend Dial for his next game, the BCS Championship Game, and said any subsequent action would be handled internally by Alabama. Carollo brought the Dial hit and about a dozen other plays to the NCAA Football Rules Committee as examples of launching and hitting defenseless players.
“In my opinion, it should be an ejection for hitting a player above the shoulders,” Carollo said. “I’m not criticizing the (SEC officials) for not throwing the penalty. Sometimes it happens. That would be a good example of a defenseless player who got hit high and was targeted.”
Yes, you read that correctly: a Redding-chaired group went somewhere that Mike Slive, who has repeatedly claimed to have targeting on his mind, refused to go. That’s leadership in action, friends.
I’ve got two thoughts about this. First, letting the cat out of the bag now is pretty gutless on the panel’s part. Making this information public when the decision was made would have had greater impact. Slive, at the least, would have been forced to defend his decision, which would have made for some interesting contortions in logic, given the two suspensions for targeting he had handed out before.
Second, there’s a part of me that suspects one reason Slive likes the new rule is that it takes the decision out of his hands and puts it in the hand of the officials, which also serves to put all the blame from whatever parties feel aggrieved on them. Or, as one of the other panel members puts it, “Conference commissioners are pretty powerful. But more and more they’re saying, ‘Whatever you guys tell me, I’m doing it.’”
Sadly, this is what passes for accountability these days.