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Bama’s Dial “Getting A lot Of Heat” Over Hit On UGA’s Murray, But Will He Get A Suspension?

There were a number of questionable calls (that went against both teams) during Saturday’s night’s SEC Championship Game.  A tipped pass here, a roughing the passer there.  But one call is still stirring emotions on Tuesday morning… and still causing a number of fans to email a specific YouTube clip to the MrSEC inbox.

In Alabama’s 32-28 win over Georgia, Tide defensive lineman Quinton Dial delivered what was clearly a blow to the head of Bulldog quarterback Aaron Murray.  But Murray wasn’t in the pocket as a passer.  He was just another guy on the field after tossing an interception.  Let’s just say Murray didn’t keep his head on a swivel:

 

[SLOW MOTION] Big Hit on Aaron Murray by Quinton Dial SEC Championship

 

As you can see, there was clearly helmet-to-helmet contact on the play and SEC coordinator of officials Steve Shaw admitted yesterday that a flag should have been thrown (assuming an official saw the hit).  “We missed the call,” Shaw said.

According to Dial’s teammate Robert Lester, the senior lineman has been getting “a lot of heat from outside sources.”  Lester commented that the hit was just a part of football and you can bet Mike Slive won’t be thrilled to read the comments that follow after he’s suspended several players over the course of the last two years for illegal helmet-to-helmet or above-the-shoulder hits to defenseless players:

 

“I feel like it’s all a part of football.  Players take shots at us, we take shots at players.  It’s all football.  It’s a physical sport.  If you can got on the field and not get hit, more power to you.  That’s what football is about, hitting somebody, especially if you play defense.”

 

True enough.  But hitting someone legally is a requirement of the NCAA rule book and the SEC’s commissioner has been enforcing that call in especially egregious cases.

So, will Slive suspend Dial for Alabama’s next game — the BCS Championship Game with Notre Dame?  Shaw didn’t rule it out yesterday:

 

“As you’ve noticed, Commissioner has been vigilant on this and he did it when warranted and didn’t when it wasn’t.  I’m not sure the upcoming opponent is ever a condition in the decision.  I think it’s more based on the facts in the play…

By rule, you can’t hit a defenseless player above the shoulders.  What the determination needs to be is was this a defenseless player and was contact initiated above the shoulders?  When we go through video review of it, that’s what we’ll have to determine.  And then… as you break it down, did he lead with the head or lead with the shoulder?  From game action, it was a personal foul regardless of how we break it down frame by frame.”

 

Only, it wasn’t called as a personal foul on the field.

As for whether or not the hit will result in suspension, there’s little question that contact initiated above the shoulders.  Dial also clearly led with his head and not his shoulder.

But was Murray defenseless?  When Slive has suspended players in the past, it has been for hits against receivers and punt returners who were trying to catch passes.  Murray clearly had his eyes on the interception return, but is that a question of a player being defenseless or just unaware of his surroundings?

That could be a point the league office debates while determining its action.  If Murray’s “job” on the play was to catch a football and he got popped, it’s likely Dial would be suspended.  But Murray was simply not paying attention and the league may rule that while he didn’t see the hit coming, he was not literally “defenseless.”

That’s not our view, mind you.  We at MrSEC.com believe it was an unnecessary shot at an opposing quarterback — a protected species — and that Slive should hand Dial a one-game suspension.

The trouble is, Slive might not want to sit someone for a national title bout.  That’s a rare opportunity for a player (if you don’t play at Alabama).

Georgia AD Greg McGarity said he also missed the play during live action and that he was “stunned” when he viewed the hit on the internet.  “It is definitely a play we will submit for review, but I’m sure that’s already being done,” he said.  “I’m anxious to see what (Slive) says about it…. This is a case where it could have had serious implications on Aaron, not only in that game but in future games.”

You ca bet a lot of people in Tuscaloosa and South Bend are anxious to hear the commissioner’s ruling as well.

Dial has played in 12 of the Tide’s 13 games this season.  He’s recorded 21 total tackles, 4.5 tackles-for-loss, and 1.5 sacks.  He also has four quarterback hurries.

 


30 comments
rivercitykid
rivercitykid

It took the SEC a few days to suspend Ole Miss freshman defensive back Trae Elston for the Rebels' home game against No. 14 Texas because of a hit in Ole Miss' win over UTEP on Sept. 8.

After reviewing game tapes of Ole Miss' 28-10 win over UTEP, the conference deemed Elston's hit on wide receiver Jordan Leslie at the 3:18 mark in the fourth quarter to be "flagrant and dangerous." Elston led with his head and shoulder to hit Leslie near the goal line on an incomplete pass that sailed by both players. Just before UTEP quarterback Nick Lamaison's pass reached the goal line, Leslie pulled up as if to brace for Elston's hit.  Leslie was on the ground for several minutes before getting up.

 

According to a statement from the SEC, Elston's hit was in violation of Rule 9-1-4 of the NCAA rulebook.  "No player shall target and initiate contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent with the helmet, forearm, elbow or shoulder," the rule reads. Also, Rule 9-1-3 states, "No player shall target and initiate contact against an opponent with the crown (top) of his helmet." The suspension is in accordance with the SEC Constitution, Article 4.4.2 (d), which states that a student-athlete may be suspended if it is determined that the student-athlete has committed a flagrant or unsportsmanlike act.

 

And that, all of my Tide apologists, is why Mr. Dial should be suspended for the national championship game.  Why is it taking Mr. Slive and Co. so much time to do the right thing and announce their decision?  Dial's hit was a flagrant and unsportsmanlike act. End of story. End of debate.

rivercitykid
rivercitykid

All of the Tide apologists ignore a basic fact.  This was an illegal hit, it changed the outcome of the game and was made in a violent manner with consequential intent to knock the quarterback out of the game.  How else can you interpret what happened?  If the SEC consistently interprets and applies its policy, Dial should be suspended for the next game he plays - that would be the national championship game, I believe.  As I recall, he is a senior so this is the last chance for the league to discipline a player who flagrantly violated the rules.  While we can't "divine" what was in Dial's mind when he lowered his helmet and "The Boom" on Murray, he was, as most Alabama apologists readily admit, making a football play.  Anyone who has played football, especially on the defensive side of the ball, knows that your goal is to render the opposing player ineffective on that play and, if it happens, for the rest of the game.

 

That said, there should be no question that Dial gets suspended for the national championship game.  The fact that the SEC has waited this long to announce it's decision leads conspiracy theorists to conclude that they are developing some creative rationale, just like the Cam Newton decision last year, to justify allowing Dial to play in the NC game.  Dial was wrong, the play was brutal, there is no question from viewing the play that he intended to knock Murray out of the game and there should be no hesitation on the part of the SEC, and failing their action, the Alabama football program.  Of course, football is more important that breathing in Tuscaloosa so the chances of that happening are about as good as the Congress agreeing on tax policy.

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

 @rivercitykid  It didn't affect the outcome of the game anymore than other calls.  You are ignoring that fact.

 

Additionally, Murray wasn't hurt on the play.  It was a rough hit, but he's tough.  He got back up and looked fine the rest of the game.  I have a hard time believing Dial was really trying to injure him.  He didn't go for the legs...he didn't hit him from the back...and he didn't really lead with head either.  He was running down field as Murray was running across the field.  Dial lowered his shoulder, but stayed upright as the play itself was still in process.  You'll notice that Dial continues to run down the field towards the ball after Murray goes down.  It doesn't look like a "hey kid, Imma bout to try to end your career" type hit.  Dial is a much larger player and that accounts for part of the violence of it.  Also, note that Dial didn't really go out of his way to make the hit.  The 2 players pretty much crossed paths.  If Dial had stopped, turned around and looked for the QB, then dashed half way across the field to try to pancake him then you could say he was headhunting.

 

Yeah, it's common for defensive players to hit offensive players every chance they get.  That's football.  It's a physical game and if you're going to say that Dial was intentionally trying to "take him out" then that would be true as much as any hit in football is an attempt to "take out" another player.  Every defensive players attempts to hit a guy as hard as he can on every play.  If a guy isn't playing that way then he's not intense enough to be playing in the SEC or any high level football for that matter.

 

And like I said below, it's fine to throw a flag there and the ref messed up in not doing that, but a suspension is overkill.

 

"a student-athlete MAY be suspended if it is determined that the student-athlete has committed a flagrant or unsportsmanlike act."

 

You just said it yourself.  There is no automatic suspension in cases like this.  It's a judgement call based on not just the type of hit, but whether or not it's flagrant and unsportsmanlike.  First a player has to be defenseless.  I see no reason to say that Murray qualifies for that under that play.  If Murray had been standing still and looking off into space then you've got an argument, but he was jogging towards the play presumably to help tackle or reign in the ball carrier.  That does not meet the definition of "defenseless."  Secondly, you have to demonstrate the intent of the player if you're going to say it's flagrant.  A rough hit does not automatically qualify for that.

AllTideUp
AllTideUp like.author.displayName 1 Like

It's fair to say that a penalty should have been called here.  There was clearly helmet-to-helmet contact.  It's also fair to say that Dial had no intention of hurting Murray or leading with his head as it's hard to tell from the replay whether or not he hit with his shoulder first.  To that point, it was in no way a cheapshot and I have no idea why people say otherwise. 

 

1.  The QB becomes a defender on a fumble/interception return so he's fair game to be hit. 

2.  Murray was in front of the play, not behind it.  He was also jogging towards where he believed the ball carrier might end up.  Should Dial or any other Bama player have allowed him the opportunity to make a tackle?  You don't know when the play is going to end when you're in the middle of the action.  You have to play until the whistle blows.

3.  It's still football and an opportunity to hit the QB when he's all of a sudden on defense is a part of the game.  You hit the QB in this situation for the same reason you hit the guy when he's just thrown the ball.  There's nothing new or barbaric about it.  Murray was not defenseless for this reason.

4.  If this hit was worthy of a suspension then why isn't the Georgia defender's helmet-to-helmet hit on AJ earlier in the game also worthy of a suspension?  That was a foul and the player led with his head.  AJ had just thrown the ball and was "defenseless" in the practical sense of the word although obviously not defenseless according to the rules.  Murray was not defenseless either as I stated.  The only difference between the 2 plays is that the flag was correctly thrown in one case, but not in the other.  The hit on AJ was NOT a cheapshot either by the way.  It was a play made in the heat of action, but was also illegal.  Same case for Dial's hit.

 

And no, I'm not looking at this through Crimson eyes.  If the situations had been reversed then I would not have thought our QB being hit in that sort of situation would be a cheapshot or worthy of a suspension.  I would have wanted a flag though.  That much is true.

Tusk
Tusk

To quote Jack Lambert, "I think we should put dresses on them".

SouthernBoiSB
SouthernBoiSB

1.  Why wasn't a penalty called during the game?  As Shaw admitted, it was an infraction that was ignored.

2.  Would that penalty have changed the outcome?

3.  If he is suspended, it seems a little unfair to UGA for having this type of review/decision AFTER the game.  In other suspensions, the player was usually ejected or removed from the game immediately.

4.  Just because it's the NCS game - if the rules say he should be suspended, it should be upheld.

saginaw
saginaw

There's a video showing a Georgia player gouging at the eye of an Alabama player.  Has McGarrity said anything about suspensions regarding this?

SouthernBoiSB
SouthernBoiSB

 @saginaw Link?  I've never heard of said video.

Silver Creek Dawg
Silver Creek Dawg

 @SouthernBoiSB  @saginaw 

 

Sheldon Dawson was the UGA player that stuck his fingers inside an Alabama player's helmet.  I would be ok if he got suspended for it; there's no room on a football field for that kind of stuff.

 

As far as the Dial/Murray play is concerned, what nobody has said so far is that exact situation was a point of emphasis for SEC officials this season.  Rightly or wrongly, they were told to protect QBs after turnovers from being "targeted" (the conference's word, not mine) by defensive players.  Tom Ritter needs to be suspended for missing that call.

rivercitykid
rivercitykid

You can call it part of football all you want, but players and coachers in the SEC should know the rules.  A safety for Ole Miss received a 1-game suspension from the SEC for a hit on a receiver in the chest that was not flagged in a non-conference game earlier this year.  As Mr. Shaw has pointed out, this has been and should always be a point of emphasis for the officials.  We all know what is going in the NFL right now with the lawsuits over concusssions and traumatic brain injuries.   If you roll the tape you show above a few seconds longer, you'll see an SEC pinstriper come into view only a few feet to the right of Murray staring directly at this play.  Now either that official is completely incompetent, or this gives rise to the conspiracy theorists who say that the SEC will do anything to ensure that the millions keep rolling in and that Alabama goes to the NC game.  I'm not that venile or jaded, but something needs to be done about SEC officiating.  For a conference that claims to be the best in college football, more time needs to be devoted to the officiating product that is out on the field.

 

Alabama apologists will say it was just a hit and that is football, but consider the circumstances in the game.  If Alabama is penalized, they likely don't score the field goal.  Assuming everything else happens as it did in that game the rest of the way, Georgia gets the ball back and drives down the field for a game-tying field goal, is not forced to score a touchdown and has a chance to win in overtime.  This is clearly a case where a blown call - whether deliberate or not - affected the outcome of the game, potentially could have caused a career-ending injury and one where we are still waiting to learn whether the SEC will do the right thing and at least suspend the Alabama player for the game.

 

If you roll the tape in that game, Dial and his team mates were grinning ear to ear, slapping each other on the back and yucking it up on the sidelines afterwards for a clear helmet to helmet hit on a defenseless quarterback who was looking up field at the play.  In most other circumstances, it happens on offense when at least the player who is on the receiving end can lower his head.  Good thing that Murray spent some time in the weight room and had an extra good set of neck muscles.  Otherwise, the violence of that hit might have caused some permanent damage.  In this day and age, player safety and multi-million dollar personal injury lawsuits trump tired arguments about "it's just part of the game" and "winning at all costs."  We'll see if Mr. Slive and Co. have the courage to do the right thing in this case. 

TremontReb
TremontReb

 @rivercitykid

 I don't remember but how long did it take the SEC office to rule on the Ole Miss player?  The SEC office says that it reviews every play.  Well only had one game to review this week as oppossed to 10-14 games that week after the OM/Texas game.

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

   @rivercitykid As to whether or not the hit was egregious I'll post something else about that, but the game of "what ifs" can be played in any situation.  If a flag had been thrown there we have no way of knowing what would have happened because it didn't work out that way.  Bama would have still had the ball as the hit took place after the interception.  There was over a minute to go on the clock and Bama still had all 3 timeouts.  Saban admitted that he used poor clock management in that situation otherwise it's possible they wouldn't have had to settle for a FG there.  My point?  Saban didn't feel the need to use the timeouts because of the shorter field mostly likely.  With an extra 15 yards to go then he might have been more judicious with the clock.  Bama may have ended up with a TD there instead of a FG or they may have ended up with nothing.  We'll never know.Either way, the same could be said for the pass interference call that was nullified because of the "tipped ball" call in the 3rd quarter.  The replay showed no evidence that the ball was tipped and I don't really know why that call was made on the field anyway.  If Bama gets the pass interference call then they've got 1st down in the red zone.  Instead, they tried the FG that was ultimately blocked and returned for a TD by Georgia.  Had the correct call been made there then that alone could have changed the game.  It may have worked out in Bama's favor or in Georgia's in the end, but we can't be sure either way.

 

There were other calls as well that could have affected the outcome. 

tnboy777
tnboy777 like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

i don't think anyone but Dial can define his intent.i also believe that one should look at his past record both on and off the field.Has he made this type of block a habit during the regular season or seasons past,taken bath salt type drugs,mugged or assaulted innocent people,thrown beer bottles across a parking lot and injured innocent property,and finally if we to use video to convict after the fact,how does one determine the intent of a block in the back or a chop block(i.e.-williams#54-ithink?at 13:13 in the 3rd? quarter.was there not a referee approx 5ft. from the block.Anyway,i tend to get wordy,i just think we should let those in charge of policing do their job.People like ESPN using words like hunted,dirty,cowardly,cheapshot should spend a few of their PRECIOUS resources to look at a man's overall character rather than drum up anger for their childish viscerated-vitreolic remarks for RATINGS SAKE.

AgStuckInNC
AgStuckInNC like.author.displayName 1 Like

It was a violent hit, but as a football play it wasn't a dirty hit.  You might can argue that Dial took the opportunity to "aggressively block" the QB where physics took over.  Dial (6' 6"/304) led with his right shoulder right into Murray's (6' 1"/210) chest.  The force of the hit snapped Murray's head forward into Dial's.  If that was a block on a punt return we wouldn't be having this conversation.  How many times to you see a wicked block on a return?  The fact that it's a star QB shouldn't matter.  The QB has to be aware that he becomes a normal player once the other team has the ball.  If Murray didn't know that then, I bet he does now.

JRRM
JRRM

 @AgStuckInNC You are so wrong. Watch the slo mo again. The first thing that moves is Murray's head. If Dial's soulder hit Murray's chest or shoulder first then you would see Murray's body move a split second before his head moves but that did not happen. Watch the film again for this. It was definitely ahead first blow and illegal under the rules. The worst part was that in the TV replays, there was a ref standing right there.

emarsh429
emarsh429

i know enough about the rules to get me in trouble. But quick question i haven't seen asked.  If the refs would have thrown the flag, would there be reason to review for suspension? 

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

 @emarsh429 

 

Whether a flag is thrown or not doesn't impact the SEC's decision to suspend or not suspend.

 

Thanks for reading the site,

John

randompants
randompants

Here's my take (and I'm an Alabama fan, just for context):

 

1) Murray was not defenseless and should have either not been jogging toward the play or should have been paying attention. (If he's not "trying" to make the play, this is as open and shut of a case as there is.)

2) Dial was not using his head as a weapon and did not target Murray's head.

3) Dial did make contact with Murray's head. (I believe incidentally, but that's irrelevant).

4) The official didn't throw a flag, but a flag should have been thrown.

5) If defenseless vs. not defenseless is the main choice that decides a suspension, Dial should not be suspended. If the determination on whether the contact was initiated above the shoulders, it's a bit trickier, but I believe that Dial should be suspended. Intent is irrelevant. If the rule says you can't do it, you can't do it - even if you didn't mean to (and again, I don't believe he was trying to take a head shot. The way the hit plays out just doesn't add up for it to be an intentional helmet-to-helmet. He still hit him in the head, and that came first, but don't assume intent just because of result.)

 

For me, I think that if you look at everything, it's a violent play that just about everyone does. If the QB throws a pick and gets in the neighborhood of the return, you light him up. This is something that has always been. I don't believe that you have to protect the QB in this case more than anyone else, so I'm throwing that out. I'm also taking out the violence of the hit. If that hit goes off the way I believe that Dial intended for it to, it's legal, and no suspension would be legitimately on the table. However, since Dial hit him in the head first, you have to follow the rule. The officials can't miss that call, but they did, so whatever. Dial needs a suspension for no other reason than if you want to protect players (not QBs here, as I'd feel the same way if it were a lineman that he lit up) from head shots, you have to send the message. You can't be concerned with intent, you can't be concerned with the opponent in the next game, and you can't be concerned with how many more games he might have left in his career. If that's the rule, enforce it or throw it out.

 

I4Bama
I4Bama

 @randompants

 I am not arguing that he should not be punished.  I agree that he should.  To suspend him for the title game does not, however, fit the offense.  Sure, other players have been suspended for one game.  A regular season game against a conference opponent is not the same.  I understand that the SEC title game cannot be free reign for seniors.  There has to be a middle ground, even if you take the middle ground as you declare that future offenses will be handled differently.  It is just a high price to pay for a decision made in less than half a second by one who is not far removed from being a teenager.

I4Bama
I4Bama

 @randompants

 Heck, make it hurt - just don't rip his eyeballs from the sockets.

Mark1984
Mark1984

If he doesn't get suspended, it will just confirm the SEC is selective in when they enforce the rule based on the team and upcoming opponent.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

 @Mark1984 

 

Everyone's entitled to his opinion -- and most folks always want to believe a good conspiracy -- but we stated in the piece how/why the SEC might view this play differently than it did a pair of hits that led to suspensions earlier this season.

 

We believe Dial should be suspended, but that doesn't mean the league office is playing favorites if he's not.  They may not view Murray as being defenseless in the usual terms -- ie: catching a football.

 

Thanks for reading the site,

John

jasonwright
jasonwright

@MrSEC Murray not being in the pocket doesn't matter because Dial lowered his helmet and hit him squarely in the face mask. That's illegal!

SEC Fan44
SEC Fan44

Outrageous selective enforcement.. Ole Miss has a legit complaint.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

 @SEC Fan44 

 

Did you read the story?  It's not selective enforcement until the league doesn't hand down a suspension.  And even then, as we noted, the league might not view a hit on a quarterback looking the other way in the same way it does a defenseless receiver who is trying to catch a football or field a punt.

 

Thanks for visiting the site,

John

TremontReb
TremontReb

 @John at MrSEC  @SEC Fan44

 The commissioner opened this can of worms and now an SEC team playing in the NC game will be without a key contributor.  At least if the commissioner is fair and equitable.  Murray was defenseless and this was a CHEAP shot.  Unlike a defensive back trying to seperate the ball from the receiver, this defensive player was trying to seperate Murray's head from his body.  We shall see if BAMA gets special treament in this case.

I4Bama
I4Bama

It was a cheap shot.  It should have been a penalty and should not have happened.  Lester is correct in part, though, that this is football.  It does not warrant sitting a senior for the final game of his career, which also happens to be a national title contest.  The punishment does not fit the crime.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator like.author.displayName 1 Like

 @I4Bama 

 

I'll say only this -- and I know I'll hear it all day long -- if Georgia had won the game and Jarvis Jones had delivered that exact same shot to AJ McCarron, Alabama fans would be calling for a suspension and Georgia fans would be saying what you wrote above.

 

As always, thanks for reading the site,

John



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