Marshall Law: A tough game played by tough people

July 28, 2013

The move to try to reduce the number of concussions suffered by college football players is laudable. No one would argue that it is not needed.

But as tends to happen in such instances, some people get carried away. No-huddle, up-tempo offenses have suddenly become the target of coaches who don’t like playing against them. There is no data to suggest they cause more injuries and certainly no data to suggest they cause more concussions, but that doesn’t matter to Arkansas’ Bret Bielema and a handful of others. What they really want is for the game to be played the way they like it, and they don’t like defending those offenses.

Regardless of how fast the game is played, here is the reality of college football:

Players get hurt. They always have. They always will.

If you’re looking for a game with no risk of significant injury, play golf and make sure you watch the ball so you don’t get hit in the head.

It takes a special kind of guy to play college football at the highest level. How many people really like that kind of contact? How many people are willing or even understand the grueling work that goes into being a college football player?

College football is a tough game played by tough people.

The Pac-12 recently passed a rule limiting teams to two full-contact practices per week during the regular season and spring practice. Full-contact is defined as any live tackling, live tackling drills, scrimmages or other activities where players are generally taken to the ground.

Sounds like a big deal, right? It’s not.

The rule does not limit so-called “thud” practices, in which players are hit and wrapped up but not taken to the ground. It might come as a shock to some that more practices than not are exactly that.

Once the season starts, very few teams have more than two days of full-contact practices. Most teams practice without pads on Sunday or Monday, go live on Tuesday and sometimes on Wednesday and practice in shells again on Thursday.

Rules are in place to reduce the number of concussions, though ejecting a player who had no malicious intent because an official decides he hit someone above the shoulders is patently ridiculous and will cause more problems than it will do good.

Believe it or not, coaches are concerned about the welfare of their players. No defensive coach is teaching players to lead with their heads.

Football is inherently a dangerous game. There are no rules that can be passed, no meetings that can be held, no studies of youth football players, no technology that will make a game in which big, fast, strong men crash into each other injury-free.

They can continue to study the technology of helmets and make them safer. Hypocritical coaches can talk about promising the parents of their players they’d keep them safe. But they can’t take the danger out of the game.

 

Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: