The Oregon Ducks have had a history of cheap-shot artists, Patrick Chung and T.J. Ward being the two most notable names. That has spread from the Oregon secondary to the Oregon receiving corps. Ed Dickson did it a lot last year, and in yesterday's game Lavasier Tuinei was not flagged or ejected for knocking out cornerback Marc Anthony early in the contest with a dirty play, and is not likely to be suspended for the action.
So technically, there's nothing in the NCAA rulebook that says Tuinei can't pick Anthony without getting thrown out of the game, but it should be in the rulebook. It's a cheap play that can lead to serious injury to the guy getting targeted. There are many problems with football, and one of the biggest ones these days is how the teeth has been taken out of NFL defenders for going high to the head. While I don't disagree with the decision--it's important to protect the safety of the players--why does this go only one way in protecting players?
Look at what NCAA plays are technically frowned upon.
- If the quarterback has already handed off the ball to a teammate from the line of scrimmage and does not attempt to participate in the play anymore, cannot be targeted.
- A kicker in the act of kicking the ball, until he has had sufficient time to regain his balance after the kick, should not be targeted.
- A passer in the act of passing the ball should not be targeted until he has regained his balance after letting go of the ball.
- A receiver who is in the act of catching the ball, or if the pass receiver has already relaxed and shows no indication that he can still catch the pass cannot be targeted.
- The kick receiver who is in the act of catching the ball as it hurtles downward cannot be targeted. Likewise, the kick receiver cannot be targeted once he has touched the ball for a fair catch.
- Any player who has shown no intention of getting the ball once the ball is declared dead cannot be tackled.
- Helmet-to-Helmet contact or head-butts are illegal in the NCAA.
You see a trend? Anyone on the offensive side of the field (and the scoring side of special teams) is being protected from nasty hits. But what about defenders who are getting laid out on illegal picks? If you're going to go after defenders for knocking around quarterbacks, where's the protection for them when the tables have turned? Don't they deserve similar treatment?
Apparently not. Jeff Maehl was openly bragging about receivers setting picks like this in the press conference.
Maehl on his TD:
"Just a great play call by Chip [Kelly], scheming it up coming out of halftime. They were playing man the whole game. It was just a crossing route to try and get a pick and Darron [Thomas] put it on me."
Sweet. Nice to see Oregon is no better than USC in exploiting the rules. What's worse is that if Tuinei had been laid out like that by Anthony, it'd have been fifteen yards and an automatic first down. The double standard is baffling.
It's incredibly ironic that Oregon fans will boo players for "cramping up to stop their offense" (and apparently Anthony, who was definitely injured), but will happily ignore hits like the one Tuinei laid on one of ours. Oregon has had a long-standing history of dirty actions on the football field that have knocked Cal players out of the game. The NCAA should take a long look at punishing the program or suspending players because of these infractions. Anthony and Kevin Riley have already fallen prey to these shenanigans.
It's time for the Ducks to be punished for their actions before someone gets permanently injured. A suspension to Tuinei would be a good start. It'll never happen though. Enjoy the ride to the title game boys, don't knock out too many players on the way.