The Big 12′s Double Standard
By Paul Myerberg // Oct 28, 2010
Two scenarios, equal results. In the first scenario, Nebraska linebacker Eric Martin delivers a vicious hit on Oklahoma State defensive lineman Andrew Hudson. The hit was vicious; it was also legal — it drew no flag — as Martin delivered the blow with his shoulder, not with the crown of his helmet. In the second scenario, Oklahoma State’s star receiver, Justin Blackmon, is arrested the following evening, last Sunday, for driving under the influence.
Each scenario drew a one-game suspension; the Big 12 issued Martin’s suspension, Oklahoma State levied its punishment on Blackmon. What kind of message does this send to the student-athletes of the Big 12, not to mention the high school-aged fans following their every move?
And I don’t want to hear any conspiracy theory-related banter from Nebraska; conference commissioner Dan Beebe might not like Bo Pelini — the feeling is mutual, believe me — and is assuredly upset about the university’s departure for the Big Ten, but there’s no vendetta against Nebraska coming out of Dallas.
Nevertheless, the rationale behind the conference’s decision to suspend Martin is questionable. To the Big 12, it’s about protecting the players; can’t argue with that, of course. However, the conference is looking in the wrong direction: don’t blame Martin for delivering a big hit — he didn’t land a scholarship at Nebraska for playing nice.
Take umbrage with your own guidelines designed for protecting players on special teams. Find fault with having no defined rule against a player like Martin blocking Hudson in such a fashion. Hudson, a redshirt freshman defensive end, was not ready to play; it’s not his fault — he’s a freshman, after all — though I do think the Oklahoma State coaching staff could have let him know, “Hey, this guy Martin looks for the big hit.”
And Martin does look to take guys out — again, this is why he’s at Nebraska. Even after his suspension, there remains no rule in place, no edict designed to aid players like Hudson from taking such a blow on special teams in the future. There’s Dan Beebe for you: oblivious, easily distracted and misinformed. We knew that in June, when the Big 12 nearly collapsed; we are reminded again this week of his incompetence.
My issue with the suspension goes beyond merely the hit; I could go either way on it, though that there was no rule in place beforehand has me siding with Martin and Nebraska. My issue with this situation is that a hard hit — again, one that didn’t draw a flag — lands the same length of suspension as a player arrested for driving under the influence. There’s a problem with this scenario. In what world — in what conference — could a vicious hit draw the same penalty as a D.U.I.?
If the Big 12 is going to dish out N.F.L.-like suspensions for blow to a defenseless player, such as it were, why not go a step further? Why not issue suspensions to players who, say, are arrested for speeding after drinking on a late-night drive from Dallas to Stillwater? Why is Blackmon’s suspension left up to Oklahoma State? The Cowboys might have very easily suspended Blackmon for a quarter, if not at all, and received no discipline from the conference.
I expect nothing less from Dan Beebe and the Big 12 brain trust. Only this bunch could shoot itself in the foot so terribly, all the while shaking hands, thanking each other for a job well done. It’s the gang that couldn’t shoot straight, pure and simple. You don’t want to play conspiracy theorist — put away the tin foil hats — but you have to wonder: is there something to Nebraska’s angst?
Maybe. Probably not. More likely, however, this week’s missteps is just another case of Dan Beebe missing the mark, as he’s done so many times in the past, as he’ll assuredly do again many times in the future.
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