By now, you've heard the NCAA's new head-targeting rule, which calls for players to be ejected in addition to yardage penalties that were already in place, means South Carolina star Jadeveon Clowney would've been kicked out of the Outback Bowl for The Hit. This is a misconception.
This hit, by the way:
The actual story: One conference official, from the ACC, said that in his interpretation of the rule, the hit is an ejectable offense. One former official, now with Fox Sports 1, told us that according to the letter of the law, he's inclined to agree. Otherwise? A SEC official and a Big Ten official disagreed with the ACC official's stance, and beyond that there's been a bunch of shouting. I think the hit was fine, but from one angle, it does look like he leads with his crown. From others, it doesn't.
What we have are interpretations, not a proclamation from on high. This is college football. There is no "on high."
And according to the rule, the play would've been reviewed anyway. Even if Clowney had been booted, another look at the evidence could've returned him to the field. According to Big 12 head of officials Walt Anderson, 5 of 17 targeting hits from last season would've had overturned ejections after further review.
The point of all this, of course, is to limit concussions. The point of limiting concussions is to protect players, curb lawsuits, and ensure football exists for another few decades. The game will change, and it will either be changed by the people in charge of it or by people in charge of the country. The people in charge of the game will only get so many more chances to fix it themselves.
But none of that matters, because all you need to know here is SLIPPERY SLOPE TAKING AWAY OUR FOOTBALL MAKIN' EM WEAR BONNETS MIGHT AS WELL PLAY TWO-HAND TOUCH BACK IN MY DAY.
Here is a list of complaints that have been made about the future state of football in light of the Clowney hit not actually being taken away from us:
- Next they're gonna make 'em play flag football!
- Next they're gonna make 'em play 7-on-7!
- Next they're gonna make 'em play in bubble wrap!
- Next they're gonna make 'em wear [article of women's clothing]!
- Next they're gonna make 'em wear helmets on all of their joints, like Voltron!
- Next they're gonna make 'em play without a defense!
- Next they're gonna make 'em [make love to each other] right there on the field!
- Next they're gonna replace 'em with robots that can't get hurt!
- Next they're gonna replace 'em with hot babes in [no articles of women's clothing] YEAH BABY!
- Next they're gonna make 'em count to five Mississippi [or regional variation of "Mississippi"]!
- Next they're gonna make 'em all join the Pac-12!
- Next they're gonna make 'em play at the bottom of an ocean!
- Next they're gonna expect 'em to tackle each other without using their skulls, as if this is rugby!
- Next they're gonna make 'em play with air brakes and parachutes and and lead boots and [especially encumbering article of women's clothing]!
- Next they're gonna make 'em play in zero gravity, which sounds awesome, but pay attention to my line of thinking!
- Next they're gonna make 'em leave games whenever they suffer concussions! Oh, they already try to do that, usually? Well, that's just taking precaution. Brains are essential.
- Next they're gonna make 'em play soccer [/audible gasps]!
Will the new rule bring droning minutes of confusion and game-altering frustration and weeks of controversy and bitter memories to the sport of college football? Oh, certainly.
Will it help prolong the life of college football? That is the ideal outcome.
Is there any sport in the world better suited to confusion, frustration, controversy, and bitter memories? Absolutely not.