Texas is no longer looking for an explanation as to why Kenny Vaccaro was flagged for his hit against Missouri’s De’Vion Moore.
It’s looking to change the circumstances around the flag altogether.
“I am going to recommend to the AFCA (American Football Coaches Association) that the official upstairs should be able to have an instant replay on any play that could change the game,” Texas coach Mack Brown said.
Brown would face a fine or suspension were he to directly criticize the officials involved any penalties. So he danced around that specific play. It was clear it was the 15-yard personal foul penalty drawn by Vaccaro helmet-to-the-sternum/chin shot on Moore that has prompted him to make his recommendation.
“Right now, with this helmet-to-helmet thing, it's hard to call,” he said. “We need to protect kids, but again we're in a position where it happens so fast … it is a very, very difficult call.”
Brown’s point is there are so many cameras now and so many angles that the officials should be able to take advantage of the technology on hand.
“What the heck is the guy up there watching anyway,” Brown said of the replay official. “If he calls down and says, ‘Hey he missed it.’ Change it. That’s his right. He gets to see it on TV. You all see it. You know when it is bad call. And we say it's not reviewable. Well if it changes the game why isn’t it reviewable?”
The parameters of such a rule could be sticky. For instance, how do you define a game-changing call? Especially when considering you are dealing with coaches who are trying to do everything within their power to get an edge in a game.
Secondly, FBS games area already on average more than three hours and twenty minutes long. The NCAA tried to shorten that by imposing some rules in 2008. But that has not done much to stop the hands of the clock. A rule change, such as the one suggested by Brown, would no doubt further extend games.
Brown is not dissuaded by that arguments.
“We're doing it for fumbles. We're doing it for out of bounds and inbounds and we're doing at the line of scrimmage,” he said. “Why don't we do it on any call, that is a bad call, that changes the game?”
What is not in question is that helmet-to-helmet calls are becoming more and more common in the NCAA. That’s largely because it has been a point of emphasis ever since a 2005 report that discovered officials were not making that call.
During a sample season prior to 2005, it was discovered that one in every 833 flags was for “head contact violations.” (This includes helmet-to-helmet and spearing) In 12 of the 20 major Division I conferences there were no flags thrown for spearing.
Armed with this information and more medical research data, the NCAA Football Rules Committee tightened rules in 2008.
“The committee is directing game officials to strictly penalize head-down contact as well as players that target defenseless opponents,” Michael Clark, head coach at Bridgewater College (Virginia) and committee chair, said in a release.
Texas’ players said they have been instructed on how to properly hit. But there is still gray area on how the calls are made.
“The thing I’ve been told is if the helmet hits the shoulder pads and goes up to the head then it is still a helmet to helmet,” Brown said. “Those are tough calls and the way shoulder pads are and jerseys, they are slick, so if the helmet hits they are probably going to come up. We've got to make sure that on all sides of the rules that it is safe for both sides.”