I haven’t been shy about mocking Spurrier’s complaints to the SEC about various policies the conference has put in place, but I can’t blame him for his latest grumble.
A personal foul was called against Swearinger after he launched into UAB’s Patrick Hearn while breaking up a pass in the third quarter Saturday. The side of Swearinger’s helmet crashed into Hearn’s facemask. Both players stayed in the game…
… Spurrier pointed out Sunday that a Vanderbilt player was given a 15-yard penalty but no suspension for a similar hit against Gamecocks tight end Justice Cunningham.
Here’s the hit on Cunningham, for those who need a reminder:
This is the can of worms Mike Slive has opened with his new, laser-like focus on targeting. And before you say, “that’s just Spurrier”, note that Steve Shaw felt compelled to respond to Spurrier’s comparison.
On replay, although contact was made to the receiver’s helmet, the primary contact from the Vanderbilt defender was to the shoulder area. The Vanderbilt defender never lowers his head and the contact is made with his facemask up looking at the South Carolina receiver. It was a foul because there was glancing contact to the receiver’s helmet. In the UAB contest, based on video replays, the contact was initiated by a slight launch of the defender into the receiver and the primary contact was targeted directly into the receiver’s facemask.
Now whether you think that’s a load of hooey or not, that’s an awful lot of detail you’re asking officials on the field to absorb in a short time. (Remember that the player who received the season’s first suspension wasn’t even flagged on the play.) And it’s setting things up for an awful lot of second guessing in the aftermath.
None of which is to say that sending a message about targeting isn’t a worthy idea. But the devil’s in the details. And details aren’t something at which the SEC has always excelled.