COLUMN: Let the players play, quit babying
Livin’ the dream
Published: Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 00:10
It’s ironic, really.
College football is placing so much emphasis on safety, it’s actually hurting the game.
What in the heck is the NCAA Rules Committee thinking?
The targeting rule says players aren’t allowed to initiate contact with an opponent with the crown of the helmet, and players can’t target or initiate contact with the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent.
Wow. Talk about gray area — and that’s just with the definition of the rule. The consequences for violating the rule are even worse.
If a player is flagged for targeting, it’s an automatic ejection. However, replay review can overturn the ejection. Officials look at each targeting call as soon as it happens, and if they decide to, they can overturn the ejection.
But the penalty remains.
So essentially what the rules committee is saying is, “Hey, we’re going to have officials throw a flag and kick you out. If they’re wrong and you didn’t actually target the opponent, we’ll let you come back and play, but we’re still going to give your opponent 15 free yards.”
Give me a break. This is ridiculous.
The first issue comes with the principle of the issue: safety.
I get it, you’re worried about the safety of players. And hey, I’m all for safety, and I realize there’s politics involved because it involves educational institutions, but come on; it’s football. The sport is a physical by design.
There are alternate versions if you want to limit the physicality and potential for injury. It’s called two-hand touch, which is what the NCAA may as well be playing with all the rules now regarding safety.
According to Dave Cutaia, a former Division I football official, in the first month of the season — 271 games — there were 26 targeting fouls called. Six of those were overturned. That’s one call for every 9.5 games played, and 23 percent of those calls the NCAA overturned, essentially saying, “No foul, but we’re calling it anyway.”
On Saturday, there were three in the first five games, none of which had the ejections overturned. Georgia’s Ray Drew was ejected for targeting against Vanderbilt’s quarterback in what was the most ridiculous targeting call yet.
These guys are playing physical, hard-nosed, smash-mouth football. That’s what it’s supposed to be. To the players, if you don’t want to get hurt, don’t play. To the NCAA Rules Committee, take the stick out of your butt and realize that it’s a physical sport and you can’t baby the players.
The rule is in its infancy, so the matter is going to continue to get worse. The NCAA can’t wait until offseason to tweak the rule, but they will because they’re idiots.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for keeping people safe, but this is football. Guys voluntarily put their bodies on the line and risk injuries every play of every game — emphasis on the word “voluntarily.” If these guys weren’t willing to get hit and/or injured, they wouldn’t be playing the game.