COMMENTARY: SEC needs to re-adjust its focus

It's really hard not to like and admire Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive.

He is much better than his predecessor Roy Kramer, who made the league millions and millions with his television contract work but tried to ruin college football with the Bowl Championship Series. Sometimes the BCS works, but a lot of the time it's no better than the old way with the bowls haphazardly trying to pick games.

Slive is a proven leader. He is accessible. He doesn't act like he knows everything. He answers questions. He has tried to change the image of the SEC, which under Kramer and those before him was often referred to as the Southeastern Cheaters.

Slive has kept the SEC supremely lucrative. There is no league better overall. There is clearly no football league as good. And I think some of those teams in the NFC South would struggle to make it to Atlanta – especially Atlanta.

But Slive, the law-and-order commissioner, needs to balance some of his law and order.

For example, if you run onto a football field and celebrate your team's victory without hurting anyone, your school can get fined $50,000 by the SEC. This happened to repeat offender Kentucky after it beat No. 1 LSU 43-37 in triple overtime in Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Ky., on Oct. 13 in an instant classic that may go down as one of the greatest SEC games played in recent years.

On that same day at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Miss., Confederate fans threw whiskey bottles, a pair of red shoes and God knows what else after Ole Miss lost to Alabama on a controversial instant replay reversal. They didn't enter the field, however, and Ole Miss was not fined.

The SEC has fined schools for storming other football fields and basketball courts in recent years after big victories. They do it for fan safety. People can be hurt and have been hurt, including after the Kentucky-LSU game. Excuse me, but fan safety and what happens on a field after a game and around campus after a game is that school's responsibility and the responsibility of the campus and local police, state police and other authorities.

It is NOT the business of the SEC.

Yet, while the SEC plays cops and robbers, it apparently thinks it is OK for Auburn offensive guard Chaz Ramsey to illegally chop block LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey at the knees. This happened on Oct. 20 at Tiger Stadium. An SEC official was right in front of that play and did not throw the flag. The official should be fined.

Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville admitted a flag should have been thrown on his team.

According to LSU coach Les Miles, Slive told him a penalty should have been called.

No penalty was called. Tuberville did not discipline Ramsey. Slive did not discipline or fine Ramsey or Auburn. Tuberville, who sounded sincere when he said he doesn't approve of such blocks, should have sat Ramsey for the first quarter of the Ole Miss game last week. Or Slive should have done that or told Tuberville to do that. We are told Ramsey felt awful about it. That's good, but that's not good enough.

The SEC rule book has no ejection or suspension penalty for a chop block. Perhaps the SEC should put one in. The SEC suddenly started playing judge and jury for fan celebration on the field. How about a little judgment for dirty plays on the field? Particularly plays that are aired nationally over and over for the world to see. Ramsey is not the first player to perform such a block. But his illegal block is one of the few that so many have seen.

The SEC needed to set an example, but it didn't. Yet, it is not surprising that the SEC is punishing Georgia coach Mark Richt this week for telling his players to celebrate illegally after their first touchdown against Florida on Saturday, which they did. No one was hurt, however.

Dorsey, one of the SEC's best players, did not practice last week because of a sprained knee courtesy of Ramsey. He may play Saturday at Alabama, but it is doubtful he will be at his best. He also may not play.

Ramsey, meanwhile, can continue to play without interruption, and apparently he can continue to block illegally. That's the message the SEC has sent. This could mean more illegal blocks and more illegal injuries in the future.

Perhaps the SEC should suspend Ramsey without play until Dorsey plays again. Or perhaps it could send some of the money from its fine jackpot to cover Dorsey's medical expenses.


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