On Saturday, Alabama defensive lineman LaMichael Fanning put a very dangerous, very dumb move on Missouri tailback Russell Hansbrough. In wrestling-style maneuver, Fanning picked up Hansbrough and then flipped him over and threw him to the ground headfirst.
Hansbrough is 5-9, 185 pounds. Fanning is listed at 6-7, 298. It was a dirty play (that you can see further down in this story).
Fanning was penalized for a personal foul. In terms of a dangerous play, there’s no question Fanning — a redshirt freshman — should be suspended by the SEC office. The trick is finding the right rule to match with the suspension. This was not a crown-of-the-helmet-to-the-head-of-a-defenseless-receiver type of play. And body-slamming isn’t a “point of emphasis” in the NCAA like those helmet-first hits, either. Oh, it’s every bit as dangerous, yes, but the SEC would need to find the proper rule and wording to dole out a one-game suspension for the Bama benchwarmer.
Whether the SEC office gets involved or not, Missouri’s players took matters into their own hands on Saturday.
Here’s the play in question complete with the commentary from CBS’ Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson. After Fanning takes down Hansbrough, watch what happens to Fanning — wearing #44 — on the next two plays.
No punches thrown. No “The Longest Yard” style low blows. Just a clean, on-the-field butt-whooping delivered man-to-man. Or men-to-man.
Nick Saban said today that Fanning has sent letters of apology to both Hansbrough and Missouri coach Gary Pinkel. Knowing Saban, you can bet he wasn’t pleased with one of his linemen doing something that could a) injure another team’s player and/or b) cost the Tide 15 yards.
Bama’s coach said:
“This is a young player who’s excited about getting in the game who makes a very, very poor decision and judgment on making that play,” Saban said. “It’s something we don’t condone here. It’s not how we want our players to play.
I think he understands that what he did was not done in the right way in terms of being a strong competitor, and we are managing internally things for him to do to make better choices and decisions in the future. With our young people, when they make mistakes, that’s what you really want to try to do.
I talked to Gary yesterday about it. He understands our position on it, and there’s other things that are done internally in the program, and we kind of take it from there.”
We’ve asked the SEC office for a comment and will share said comment if/when we get one.