Like I said last week, if they are going to be consistent, there will be at least 1-2 suspended every week. We'll see how long this lasts.
Two weeks. Two suspensions.
One week after penalizing Ole Miss defensive back Trae Elston for a violation of the rules 9-1-3 and 9-1-4, the SEC office has doled out a suspension to South Carolina defensive back DJ Swearinger for a violation of good ol’ 9-1-4.
For the conspiracy theorists who said of Elston’s suspension, “Let’s see the SEC suspend a player from a good team before a big game,” uh, well, you can now hush and get back to looking at that model of Dealey Plaza you made out of mashed potatoes on your kitchen table.
Here’s what the SEC had to say about the suspension of the free safety starter from the seventh-ranked team in the country:
“This action is the result of a flagrant and dangerous act which occurred at the 5:46 mark in the third quarter (of South Carolina’s game with UAB on Saturday). The action is in violation of Rule 9-1-4 of the NCAA Football Rule Book, which reads, ‘No player shall target and initiate contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent with the helmet, forearm, elbow or shoulder.’
By playing rule, a defenseless opponent is defined by ‘one who because his physical position and focus of concentration is especially vulnerable to injury.’ One of the example in the rule book is a receiver whose focus in on catching a pass.”
Unlike Elton’s play, the hit by Swearinger — shown below — did draw a flag from officials.
According to commissioner Mike Slive: “These rules are for the protection of the health and safety of our players on both sides of the ball. It is imperative that our student-athletes understand the importance of this rule. Our motivation in making these decisions is to protect our student-athletes.”
As we noted last week when comparing several hits that did and did not result in SEC suspensions, it again appears that the result of the hit does play a role in the league’s action. Right or wrong, when a belted player appears wobbly, woozy or flat knocked out, suspensions usually follow. UAB’s receiver did indeed stay on the ground after the big hit by Swearinger.
The suspension is a rough blow for the Gamecocks. Swearinger is a senior, three-year starter. His backup — Jared Shaw — has rarely played. Missouri will visit Williams-Brice Stadium for a key SEC East battle on Saturday.
Interestingly, South Carolina’s Justice Cunningham was clocked by Vanderbilt defensive back Andre Hal in this year’s SEC opener but no suspension was handed down on that occasion. League spokesman Charles Bloom explained to MrSEC.com last week why there was no suspension in that case.
As we said of Elston’s suspension — and as we would have said had Vandy’s Hal been suspended — the league is simply trying to protect athletes (and avoid potential lawsuits). And we have absolutely no problem with that.