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No Suspension For Bama’s Dial Over SEC Title Game Hit On UGA’s Murray

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.


Quinton Dial Destorys Aaron Murray! [Alabama vs Georgia]



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.



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).


LaMichael Fanning's ridiculous WWF hit on Missouri RB Russell Hansborough during the monsoon between the Tide and the Tigers on October 20 didn't get a suspension either.  Should have.


Sweet hit!! Boy I miss those days. Don't know if I could even play any more with all of these protective rules.

SEC fan
SEC fan 2 Like

Either it is OK to go helmet-to-helmet as long as it is after an interception or as long as it is in a game in which your team can play in the championship game if it wins.  Under either scenario, it is clearly a biased decision.  If you cannot see that you are either a Bama fan or incredibly naive.

Mark1984 1 Like

 @SEC fan When Sports writers (See article above) state it has to do with the next game, that's a big deal.  It means the SEC is putting reputation, money, etc. above player safety in the eyes of even the journalist.  Not a good day for the SEC office.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

 @Mark1984  @SEC fan 


I thought I made it rather obvious that I do believe the SEC decided against suspending Dial because his next game is for the BCS title and the SEC -- which is actually all 14 member institutions -- has a vested interest in winning that game.


So if the comment "If you cannot see that you are either a Bama fan or incredibly naive" is aimed toward me, someone failed to read the piece:


"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.)"


Thanks for visiting the site,



 @John at MrSEC  @Mark1984  @SEC fan 

John, what we don't get is this:  would you rather been seen as a conference that plays fair according to the rules;  or a conference that is trying to continue an amazing feat in sports history?  My conscience would rather see a mix of the two & this decision doesn't allow for that.


It's as I thought - they didn't see Murray as being defenseless, so they didn't suspend. Fair enough on the defenseless ruling - I too do not see Murray as defenseless, just as not paying enough attention - but I'm still not sure that this is the right call.


While I believe that the SEC is being mostly consistent here, I think that they've missed the boat on a couple of hits this season (this being the most high profile, to be sure) that should have set a precedent for protecting players. I think that Dial should've gotten a suspension, but they may need to tighten their criteria for issuing suspensions in the offseason if they wish to broaden the brush. They've tightened the window a bit too much for me with the "defenseless player" label (though clearly defenseless players should be protected, simply not being defenseless shouldn't allow for hits to be overdone).


Murray was moving toward the play and could have been a factor. Dial blocking Murray was fine. Dial blocking Murray the way he did was too much, and should have resulted in a suspension.

Mark1984 1 Like

 @randompants   Yep.  He led with his helmet and left his feet.  This one will be brought up over and over again.  Every time someone is suspended for "leading with his helmet and launching" this hit will be brought up.  SEC messed up here big time.  


 @Mark1984 I agree that the SEC messed up here, but I don't agree with the view that he led with his head. The angle he took on the play makes it appear that he led with his shoulder. His head got there first, and that's why (along with the sheer needless violence there, legal or not) they have to suspend him, but "led with his head" implies intent that I don't think was there. He led with his shoulder and took a poor angle that due to his size vs. Murray's, allowed his head to arrive first. He also didn't "leave his feet" per se - it looks like his feet and Murray's were tangled. I honestly think if they don't get tangled, Dial doesn't fall. Could be wrong about that one more than the shoulder thing though.


I think that you don't legislate intent here - you legislate technique. If you don't want helmet-to-helmet shots, you suspend when they occur. If you want to reduce injuries, you suspend/flag when violent hits occur unnecessarily. That's what I'm saying.


Still, Dial should've been suspended. You can't concern yourself with what game is next. So, on that - we agree completely. :-)


 @randompants IMO, leading with the helmet has nothing to do with intent and everything to do with form.  He made helmet to helmet contact first because he led with his helmet.  He left his feet and I don't think it was the result of being tangled.  He didn't trip, his feet came off the ground prior to being tangled.  


That said, yea, it should have been a suspension and the SEC office will have a hard time living this one down.  With Fairly last year and Dial this year, it's a pattern.  Don't want your guy suspended, make sure you are a highly ranked team.  


The NFL protects the QB after an int *if he does not pursue the play.* If the QB just stands there, he's protected. If he chaises down the player, he can get blocked just like anyone else. Applying the same criteria to this situation, Murry probably would not be protected since he was moving toward the play. If he wasn't serious about getting involved, and I don't think he was, it would have been better for him to stay away rather than casually jog.


As for the actual block, it's clear that it's a shoulder to the upper chest. There may be some helmet-to-helmet, but it certainly not spearing. I know of no rule against blocking high in the chest like that, and helmet-to-helmet contact occurs regularly during blocking, so while it is an opportunistic & unnecessary hit, I don't think it's dirty.


Yep.  Should have been suspended.  The league will have a very hard time living this one down.  They will reap fan accusations for years to come as a result.  Too bad for the players, officials, and finally too bad for the SEC office.


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