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Hands-off approach (cont'd)

Posted: Tuesday October 4, 2005 10:49PM; Updated: Wednesday October 5, 2005 12:09PM
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The Emancipation Day for O-linemen, according to Adams, occurred before the 1975 season. "That was the year that we first started tinkering with the rules that offensive linemen had to keep their hands into their chests," Adams says. "Back when defensive linemen were 190 pounds, that wasn't difficult to do. But as defenders got bigger and faster, they were dominating the line of scrimmage."

So the NCAA, without the help of Bill Maher, created new rules. They allowed O-linemen to half-extend their arms, but only when retreating to block, as in a passing situation.

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"But that didn't last too long," says Adams. "It's hard to officiate what is a half-extension of the arms and what is a full extension. In the early '80s we modified the rule. An offensive lineman may fully extend his arms, but they must be extended within the frame of his own body. Also, he must keep his palms open. That way an official can tell whether or not he's grabbing someone. And that's where the rules stand today."

Of course, offensive linemen fail to remember, on every down it seems, that they must keep their palms open and their arms extended within the frames of their massive forms. So why not, I ask Gaston, just require them to wear gloves or mittens (because I doubt the digital amputation proposal would get past a preliminary vote)?

"Well, that idea has been brought up before," says Gaston. "But here's the problem you run into. Every NCAA rule applies to all levels and divisions. So if we do it in Division I-A then they have to do it in Division III. And when you make an equipment addition proposal like that, the first question you'll hear from the smaller schools is, 'How much is this going to cost?'"

"The gloves idea is thrown out there every year," Gaston says. "It just never gets passed."

Hmm. Digital amputation would actually be cheaper. Then all we'd have to do is find someone to type their papers for them (assuming O-linemen type their own papers now).

Eight in the Box

1. On Monday's Mike and the Mad Dog broadcast here in New York, the hosts handicapped the Rose Bowl participants (already penning in USC). Now, Mike and the Mad Dog sure do know a lot about the Yanks, Mets, Jets and Giants, but their college football can could use a little work. First, it's Oct. 4th. When you've got games such as Oklahoma-Texas, Ohio State-Penn State, USC-Notre Dame and Tennessee-Alabama coming up in just the next three weeks, why even worry about the Rose Bowl yet? Second, here's who Mike and the Mad Dog see as being the only teams who could face the Trojans in Pasadena: Texas, Virginia Tech and (gulp) Alabama. With Penn State being a longshot.

Here's what I have learned: Even USC isn't a sure thing to be there in Pasadena. Second, while the Longhorns and Hokies are favorites to be there, 'Bama is not. The Tide have played inspired football thus far, but in losing Tyrone Prothro last Saturday to a broken leg, Mike Shula has lost his leading receiver, punt returner and kick returner. Besides, the Tide must host Tennessee and LSU and visit an Auburn team that, since losing to Georgia Tech, has outscored opponents 176-24 (that's an average final score of 44-6). Then, if the Tide are still surging, they'll face either Tennessee, Florida or Georgia in the SEC championship game. Again, all without Prothro.

Love the Tide. Love what Coach Shula has done. But I don't see them in Pasadena.

And, as for Penn State? The JoePaPas host Ohio State and visit a suddenly revived Michigan in the next two weeks. Nittany Lion frosh, meet Messrs. Hawk, Carpenter and Schlegel.

2. Ron Franklin and Bob Davie on ESPN2's broadcast of the Notre Dame-Purdue game noted that Boilermaker quarterback Brandon Kirsch is majoring in "Leadership and Supervision." Other majors offered in West Lafayette (presumably) are: "Chief of Surgery", "Full Partner" and "Board of Director."

3. Davie, by the way, has improved markedly as a color commentator. You can go a whole Fighting Irish broadcast without Davie mentioning that, um, he used to coach in South Bend. Kudos to him for that.

4. What sadist in Bristol decided that SportsCenter needed a remote report from the GameDay crew (Chris, Kirk & Lee, but you knew that) in Tempe with only about five minutes remaining in the USC-Arizona State game? The trio had to depart Sun Devil Stadium and head north into the parking lot to the GameDay set in order to do the report. Consider not only the illogistics of that move, but the confounding rights issues. GameDay is on ESPN; the USC-ASU game was on ABC, a sister network. By what contractual clause was ESPN disallowed to have Fowler, Herbstreit and Corso do a sideline stand-up? What, would ABC have sued ESPN? Regardless, it was downright insensitive for the producers back in Bristol to order that live remote from outside the stadium, the kind of move made by someone with no appreciation for what the GameDay gang's job entails. As Corso said near the end of the remote (as close to verbatim as I can recall), "I hear there's a great game going on in there. I wish I could see it."

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