The Covid-19 crisis will subside, and America will return to normalcy. When that happens, we’ll finally have a moment to go back and revisit some things that happened during an electrically fast period of time. Amidst the issues happening outside the football world, which sometimes seep into the football world, stuff happens that demands our attention, but because of an order of importance, some things need to be put on the back burner, as they say.
Let’s revisit the NCAA 2020 College Football Playoffs Semi-Final game between the (2)Ohio State Buckeyes, and the (3) Clemson Tigers. Specifically, let’s return to the second quarter. It’s 3rd and 5, and there’s just about 5 minutes left in the half. Ohio State is winning 16-0. The ball is snapped, the Buckeyes blitz, there’s a hit, and then, there’s an ejection. Shaun Wade hits and sacks Trevor Lawrence, and then, he gets ejected for targeting.
My issue here is obviously the ejection, but in a growing culture where we demonize players for making clean open field tackles, referees must be careful with the terminology they’re using.
There was a time, not long ago, when the fans used to cheer and applaud good clean hits, and that’s what creates momentum. I worry, as an ex-NCAA football player, and a fan of the game, that this growing trend of booing and placing guilt on players for making clean hits, is going to eventually change the game, but not for the better.
Terminology? When you target someone, you’re intentionally going after that person. Was Shaun Wade really targeting Trevor Lawrence, or did he make a clean hit and tackle off a called blitz?
I’ve been an Ohio State football fan since 1996, and I can tell you that Ohio State is not that kind of program. I also don’t believe Shaun Wade is that kind of player.
Shaun Wade’s ejection, which came at such a critical point in the game, not only changed the momentum coming from the crowd, but it gave the Tigers a first down, and the extended drive led to a Clemson touchdown. Going into the locker room at halftime down by 9, is a lot different than going in and being down by 16.
I understand there’s a concern about player safety, but football is contact sport, and it’s a fast physical sport. The players have to be able to play the game, and referees have to do a better job at deciding the difference between clean aggressive hits that happen throughout the course of the game, and those that are delivered to inflict intentional harm.
If you haven’t played the game than you cannot know how fast the play is on the field. The plays are called, the ball is snapped, and contact is made. It’s that fast. Our concern with player safety still, cannot interfere with the free flow of the game, unless we sacrifice the game itself in the name of safety.
The summer will be here in few weeks, and hopefully football will return. Hopefully football will return.