Just when you thought the NCAA couldn’t get any more NCAA-ish…

The Ivy League, as you’re probably aware, has taken the step of cancelling live tackling in practices during the season to cut down on the risk of player injury.  One of the motivating factors for that was the experience Columbia University’s football team has had using a mechanized tackling dummy in practice – something it’s been doing for five years.

Buddy Teevens told Dan Patrick on air this morning that his program hasn’t tackle live during practice in five years and he and his staff have turned that into part of their recruiting pitch, telling recruits that they will “never tackle one of their teammates in their four of five years on campus” . Last year, Teevens made a splash with the introduction of Dartmouth’s Mobile Virtual Player (MVP), a groundbreaking mobile pop-up dummy that can simulate a ball carrier, or a second level defender for offensive lineman to practice their cut blocks on.

When I saw Teevens speak at the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association a few weeks ago as part of the Practice Like the Pros speaking circuit, he said when he first told his defensive coordinator of the no-tackling policy he looked back at him like he was crazy.

It didn’t take long for him to see the benefits though. Teevens told Dan Patrick and his crew that after their first season implementing the changes, missed tackles at Dartmouth dropped “literally 50%.” Let that sink in for a second. No live tackling, only dummies, and immediate results. Think of how much better your program would have been last season if you could have cut your missed tackles in half.

When asked if they practice tackling at Dartmouth, Teevens responded, “We do. A lot of high schools do a wonderful job, but to hone skills and keep them sharp. The hard thing is, it’s the most injurious skill on the football field, and it is practiced the least as a result.”

“By doing it with bags, we become a lot more consistent, and a lot more confident by player. And actually, the first season we went to this we dropped our missed tackles literally 50%. We cut them in half.”

Better safety and better fundamentals?  How great is that?

Pretty great, except for one thing.  It’s an NCAA rule violation.

But after our piece ran yesterday, it was brought to our attention that, by our interpretation, the NCAA has stated using Dartmouth’s MVP or anything of the sort is unethical.

Page FR-10 of the 2015 NCAA Football Rules and Interpretations book (download a free PDF here) details “Coaching Ethics.” The section header reads:

“Deliberately teaching players to violate the rules is indefensible. The coaching of intentional holding, beating the ball, illegal shifting, feigning injury, interference, illegal forward passing or intentional roughing will break down rather than aid in the building of the character of players. Such instruction is not only unfair to one’s opponent but is demoralizing to the players entrusted to a coach’s care and has no place in a game that is an integral part of an educational program.”

The section then outlines unethical practices, point by point. Point A discourages teams from changing players’ numbers during a game to deceive the opponent. Point B outlaws using the helmet as a weapon.

Point C reads, “Using a self-propelled mechanical apparatus in the teaching of blocking and tackling.”

You literally can’t make that shit up.

Football Scoop has reached out to Rogers Redding for an explanation, and I, for one, can’t wait to hear it.


Filed under The Body Is A Temple, The NCAA

18 responses to “Just when you thought the NCAA couldn’t get any more NCAA-ish…

  1. Bright Idea

    The Ivy is forging the trail to flag football. I just don’t believe it will sell.


    • Napoleon BonerFart

      Good point. I don’t care how well players tackle. If they don’t risk injury when practicing, I refuse to watch.


      • Dawgfan Will

        Your snark was so masterful I almost didn’t catch it. Now I’m trying to figure out if Bright Idea was doing the same thing.


  2. Debby Balcer

    Unbelievable just when they can’t get any dumber they do.


  3. Dog in Fla

    Buddy Teevens used to be head coach at Tulane.
    Therefore he knows a lot about not tackling



    • This article is from October…and the rules violating robot was on national tv in October. Hats off to the crack NCAA rules enforcement team for catching this blatant flaunting of their rules. If Georgia came up with this and used it during even a single practice–you know damn well that every player that tackled it would have been suspended for a minimum of 4 games. And those 4 games would have been after an exhaustive investigation that went on during the previous 8 games that included multiple colonoscopies and looking into all of the players’ and their extended-extended family’s bank records. (Meanwhile that same team investigated 15 years worth of Auburn Football’s trips to casinos where everyone on the team leaves a winner over the previous 15 years in just over 3 hours and found no violations whatsoever.)


      • Dog in Fla

        “Hats off to the crack NCAA rules enforcement team for catching this blatant flaunting of their rules.”

        To be fair,
        Who watches Colbert? 🙂


  4. Russ

    It makes too much sense, so of course the NCAA is against it. What will Saban and Bert say about it? After all, they’ve been the flag bearers for player safety in trying to slow down the offenses.


  5. Steve

    What’s next? Are we going to be told premarital sex is bad? I thought practice improved everything. I know I had to use my ‘tackling dummy’ more than I wanted to when I was in Athens….. but that was back in the 60’s. They say it is easier now.
    However, I do remember one time I had to visit the ED at Athens General……


  6. John Denver is full of shit...

    Reality, old men with white hair don’t want their gladiators cutting corners.
    Also the reason practice helmets with padding on the outside are not used in games i presume.

    Why aren’t their guard rails on every road?

    lawya’s gotta lawya’


  7. Debby Balcer

    Practicing smarter not harder and more safety conscious makes too much sense for the NCAA.


  8. AusDawg85

    So a blocking sled is OK, but if it can drive itself…not OK. Got it.


  9. Mayor

    Frankly, I don’t see how players can learn to tackle, or maintain tackling skills, without live tackling drills. BTW, what was Columbia’s won-loss record last season?…..2-8. I rest my case.


  10. TN Dawg

    Columbia or Dartmouth?


  11. Just Chuck (The Other One)

    Teevens told Dan Patrick and his crew that after their first season implementing the changes, missed tackles at Dartmouth dropped “literally 50%.”

    Yet another decision based on “seems like” rather than on data.


  12. DawgPhan

    I guess I would need to see this machine to form a opinion about how legal it should or shouldnt be.


  13. rocksalt

    Serious question, if it’s remote-controlled is it really “self-propelled?” I mean, it’s not like a Roomba or anything.