Not playing the same game

AP Photo

Sorry it’s been a while between posts. Just moved into a new apartment now finally have a real work space to deliver y’all my magnificent prose from (don’t stop reading I’ll stick to college football the rest of the post I promise).

Lets jump right into the hottest topic in college football right now. Will Jadeveon Clowney be ejected from a game this season if he smashes a running back like he did last year in the Outback Bowl?

Thanks a new rule change, this season players who are flagged for targeting defenseless players not only will face a 15-yard penalty, but also will be ejected from the game. That’s right, a player can be ejected for what is a judgement call by the referees.

What could go wrong?

A single snap hasn’t been played yet in 2013 and already officials across the country can’t get on the same page about how to interpret this ruling (targeting itself is still the same rule since it’s inception in 2008, but just with a heavier penalty).

Former UNC head coach Butch Davis with ACC officials– AP Photo

ACC head of officials Dough Rhoads casually mentioned to a room full of reporters that Clowney’s hit would have been illegal and earned him an ejection this season.

Rhoads isn’t alone in his assessment of the rule. Former NFL VP of Officiating, who now interprets calls for FOX Sports, told SB nation that he too believes Clowney’s hit would merit an ejection.

“If I’m an official, based on ‘when in doubt,’ he’s out. He’s ejected,” Pereria told Steven Godfrey. “And when that goes to replay there’s no way they overturn it. There’s a great potential that hit causes an ejection this year.”

So Rhoads and Pereria both say Clowney is out, but to no one’s surprise the SEC says that it wouldn’t lead to an ejection.

“I’m part of the rules committee, and they showed that hit, and everybody agreed it was a clean hit,” Arkansas head coach Brett Bielema said to ESPN. “So if that guy [Rhoads] is officiating one of our games, hopefully he’s going to be reprimanded before then.”

Here is the problem. No not the rule, although I’m sure it will lead to a number of epic sideline meltdowns this season, but the differentiation of interpretations of a single rule by different conferences. The rule, if enforced properly, will lead to a safer game for everyone. However the fact that two leagues playing the same game can’t agree on the penalty for a hit they’ve had months to look, at speaks to a college football problem.

Sure the officials can use video to overturn the ejection (the team still loses 15 yards), but do we really expect that to happen a lot? Like my friend Ira Schoffel wrote in the Tallahassee Deomcrat this morning, it took Rhoads TWO DAYS to admit that this hit by Nigel Bradham against Miami in 2011 shouldn’t have led to an ejection. Now his officials are going to do it in two minutes?

If you thought Jimbo Fisher freaked out on refs before, wait until a player is wrongfully ejected for targeting. Photo by Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel

I’ve watched enough ACC football to say without a doubt that Rhoads’ ACC crews are some of the worst in college football. While SEC officials seem to do a much better job (insert a complaint from any of the 14 SEC fan bases about how refs screwed them last year here).

The point is that officiating varies drastically from conference to conference. So much that at times it seems like a different game and will continue to be that way until a national pool of referees is formed instead of conference officials.

Until that change is made (and why would the SEC go for that unless the big five break away from the NCAA?), I fully expect five or less SEC players to be ejected for targeting this year, while Jimbo Fisher and Dabo Swinney will both likely spontaneously combust multiple times on the sideline this year.

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2 thoughts on “Not playing the same game

  1. It’s a dumb rule, plain and simple. But I doubt it would have been enforced in the moment of the Clowney hit either way. Great blog by the way, dude!

  2. Thanks Sean. Yeah it’s such a fast play that I’m not sure they would have called anything (another issue with the rule), but the fact that after reviewing they still think it would be an ejection doesn’t look good.

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