But that's not what this article is about. This article is about the same type of non-football violent actions taking place on the field against Nebraska the past two weeks and not being called. It's also about one of those calls a week ago not leading to the suspension of a player.
The first incident was on a Nebraska touchdown run when Rex Burkhead scored from about 2.5 yards out. #47 from Iowa State, A.J. Klein, has his hands not only around the head gear of Burkhead but from other angles it appears that his hands are inside the headgear.
After Burkhead has clearly crossed the plane of the goal line and the ref has raised his hands to signal touchdown Klein keeps his hands under the head gear and begins to wrench the neck of Burkhead. This continues until Nebraska fullback, Tyler Legate, pushes Klein off of Burkhead. Legate was actually flagged on the play.
Then, last night it happens again. Playing at Texas A&M, there is a pile up for a fumble. Ben Cotton from Nebraska is in the pile and #83 from Texas A&M, Tony Jerod-Edie, obviously is involved in a non-football action on the football field.
In the following clip which I have linked, you can see Jerod-Edie pinching, grabbing, twisting or whatever you want to say or call it around Ben Cotton's groin area. Just like anyone would do in that circumstance, the reaction by Cotton was to kick at the arm that was physically violating him to get it to stop.
These types of plays need to stop. The Big 12 is concerned about stopping plays that while part of the play isn't flagged, like the block involving Eric Martin, but to this point are uninterested in stopping non-football violent actions.
What kind of message does that send to the athletes who are in the Big 12?
What will it take for the commissioner's office to hand down a suspension that will actually stop these types of plays from happening? Martin was suspended for one game, and now he basically wears a bulls-eye on his back because he drew two personal foul calls against A&M, but I digress.
What is a non-football violent action related incident worth when it comes to a suspension? I contend that one game is not enough. The world of thuggish behavior on the football field needs to have a solid message sent to the athletes that play in it that these types of actions will be dealt with swiftly and severely.
Anything less should have the Big 12 worried for the liability that they will have when someone is seriously injured when it comes to a non-football violent action like this.
And I am sure you some are saying "well, football is a violent game" and I am sure that over half of the people that are saying that haven't played the game, have never been in one of those piles and the closest they've come to actually being part of a game has come from the stands or playing PS3 from their living room couch.
I have been in those piles. I have had the back of my arm pinched and turned when I was on top of a possession changing fumble recovery. The difference between that game and these two games are video evidence.
Look, officiating is a lot like law enforcement and that not all laws or rules that are being broken each and every time are going to be called. We have all been passed on the road by speeders. We have all see people roll through stop signs. We have also seen missed calls when a defensive player has been held. Heck, we have also all seen missed face masking calls.
That's not the point.
The point here is the ability to review what has happened and make corrective actions. I think that the corrective actions shouldn't be limited to penalizing the player either. I can think of another play that is infamous in Nebraska football history, which needed to be reviewed after the fact. We all remember this, don't we?
What you don't see there, because the camera is so "zoomed in" is the official that was standing right there looking right at the play. That negligence of the officiating crew actually led to some suspensions for that officiating crew.
The plays that I listed out above against Iowa State and Texas A&M aren't as offensive or as scary as the face masking call that was obviously missed against Kansas State back in 1998. But does it need to be before something happens? Again, what type of message does that send?
Beyond the player(s) being suspended the officials should get some more practical official training. Something that goes beyond knowing what the rule number for a particular call or how to determine what is a penalty and what is not.
You will see from the plays involving Rex Burkhead and Ben Cotton that there was an official basically on top of the pile. Maybe, maybe not were the non-football violent actions out of the official views, but this is a training issue.
What good does an official do that basically dives on top of the pile? Think about what he misses going on around him because he basically loses all of his peripheral line of sight around the file outside of a very tight radius.
The official needs to work outside in and not the other way around while keeping an eye on the pile. Had that referee gone after Jerod-Edie who had no chance of recovering the fumble and basically dove on the legs of a Nebraska player as opposed to holding back players that were standing around the pile this would have been avoided.
If a referee can't understand better how to do their job when it comes to working a pile then maybe they need to become part of one. I have serious doubts not only about the fans that are quick to say that what happened last night was "part of the game" but also the qualification of the referees and understanding what is going on in those piles. Maybe a little experience might help?
And even then actions like these are going to happen that are going to be missed. Call them bad coincidences. Coincidences are tough to stomach, but are typically acceptable. What isn't acceptable though is when there is video evidence though that clearly shows a non-football violent action has taken place and the Big 12 sits idly by. It's time for some reciprocity.