The least that should have happened here are 3 things: A. a flag on the play during the game (since everybody agrees it was a foul none-the-less); B. the explanation to the SEC the determination of why no punishment for Dial in this game when others were charged during the season; and C. the explanation to everybody as to why this should not show EXTREME FAVORITISM that the SEC is going to look the other way because the NC title is on the line (& would it be the same decision had it not been the title game).
Get out your tin foil hats, everybody, the conspiracy theories are gonna start flying now.
The SEC officially announced today what we suspected it would announce — that Alabama defensive lineman Quinton Dial will not be suspended for his wicked takedown of Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray after the Bulldog tossed an interception in the SEC Championship Game:
“The Southeastern Conference has completed its review of video from the 2012 SEC Football Championship Game. Several plays involving both teams were reviewed. After review, all subsequent action will be handled internally by the two institutions and the conference office is satisfied with their actions.”
Many non-Alabama fans will claim that the SEC is just protecting the Crimson Tide, but as we noted immediately after the SEC title game, we wondered if the league would really hand down a suspension with the stakes being so high. We don’t believe the conference’s actions would have been any different had Georgia, LSU or Vanderbilt been heading to the BCS Championship Game. Leagues don’t typically handicap their own teams heading into national title games. That might not be right, but it’s hardly surprising.
SEC coordinator of officials, Steve Shaw, stated on December 3rd that the officials in the Georgia Dome missed the call on Dial and should have flagged him. But penalizing him and suspending him are two different things.
Dial clearly went high into UGA’s quarterback. We would have handed him a suspension for the lick.
But was Murray a defenseless player? When suspensions have been handed down by the SEC office in the past, a defenseless player has been hit above the shoulders by a defender using his own shoulder or helmet to deliver the big blow.
The NFL — which goes to great lengths to protect quarterbacks — does consider a quarterback “after a change of possession” to be a defenseless player. But in the SEC’s case, we’ve seen suspensions handed down time and again for shots delivered to receivers and returners who are in the act of catching the football. In the SEC’s eyes, players catching footballs might be viewed as defenseless while a quarterback like Murray might be seen as simply being unaware of his surroundings. “Keep your head on a swivel,” as the saying goes.
Again, we’re not saying that’s how we would judge Dial’s hit on Murray, but that might be the hair the SEC is splitting on this one (though we believe the main reason there’ll be no suspension is the fact that all 14 league schools have a vested interest in Alabama bringing another crown back to the league’s trophy case.)
On the season, Dial recorded 21 tackles and 1.5 sacks while playing in 12 of Bama’s 13 games.
The conference’s release mentioned that multiple plays were reviewed and that’s clearly a reference to Georgia defensive back Sheldon Dawson’s eye-gouge of the Tide’s Dee Milliner in the same contest. In both cases, the league seems to be taking a “no harm, no foul” approach.
So conspiracy theorists, have at it. The league just threw you a hanging curve.