The SEC has taken a stance on player safety, suspending a couple players for illegal hits this season to send a message. Then the conference had to review a very questionable hit from the SEC Championship Game and sent another message: Go Alabama!
Alabama's Quinton Dial led with his helmet and led with his helmet to hit Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray after an interception. That play took place almost two weeks ago, but the conference was mostly silent until today, when it announced Dial won't be suspended. Dial's next game is the BCS Championship Game against Notre Dame. Isn't that convenient.
When the SEC did pretend to care about player safety, it issued out some suspensions. Take a look at the video of a couple hits that led to a one-game ban earlier this season.
Here's Ole Miss' Trae Elston:
And South Carolina's D.J. Swearinger:
The biggest difference between these plays and Dial's hit? Well, for one, Elston and Swearinger weren't going to be trying to win another national title for the SEC in their next games.
The SEC admitted with no doubt to AL.com that the hit was illegal and should have been penalized. There's no need to debate that much further. But when it came time to judge whether it was worthy of a suspension ("What the determination needs to be is was this a defenseless player and was contact initiated above the shoulders?" SEC coordinator of officials Steve Shaw said about a possible suspension to AL.com when he admitted the play should have drawn a flag), the conference decided that any further action was "handled internally," by the schools and the conference was satisfied with that. So, what was a suspension earlier this season turns into running some stadium steps now, and we're supposed to believe it has nothing to do with Alabama having a BCS Championship Game next on its schedule?
Birmingham News columnist Kevin Scarbinsky tweeted highlights of a radio interview with Shaw in which he said Murray was a defender on the play so that hit - in which a clear helmet-to-helmet shot took place with the action going on about 10 yards away, a penalty the SEC claimed right away should have been a penalty and kept track of whether the schools "took disciplinary action" on their own - didn't deserve a suspension. Huh.
Look at the video again and decide for yourself. Was it a legal hit, or was it just deemed a legal hit because the SEC wants to beat Notre Dame for another title?
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