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The reasoning behind NCAA's changes to targeting penalty

There was a lot of concern across the college football world when the NCAA announced earlier this month that players penalized for targeting would now be ejected from the game. Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun, who just so happens to also serve as the chair of the NCAA's football rules committee, appeared on the ESPNU college football podcast with Ivan Maisel to explain the committee's intent of the rule. 

Maisel asked the questions that immediately bubbled over everyone's heads after first learning the news, primarily: why jump all the way from a 15-yard penalty to an ejection?

"When it was only a 15-yard penalty, we just felt like maybe that wasn't firm enough for a hit that we know is extraordinarily dangerous and something that we want to remove from the game," said Calhoun. 

Calhoun said that the speed of the game, and the force that players bring with them, required the committee to take such a strong stance to protect defenseless players. 

"You look at the raw physics of football, it's much different than it was 30 years ago," explained Calhoun. "You have much bigger bodies that move much more swiftly and so the sheer force that's involved is certainly increased. You want to be practical. The thing that we don't want to do is have somebody be ejected that shouldn't be ejected. That's where the part of the instant replay comes to the surface. I do think, by and large, if I'm an official there's no way I'm going to call this unless I absolutely, definitely see it. If for some reason it's missed, instant replay is able to review it."

According to the statistics reviewed by the committee, the specific hit the NCAA is attempting to remove from the game occurred only 99 times during the 2012 FBS season. Calhoun describes the specific hit that the committee wants to force into extinction.

"There are some times these hits occur that are away from the ball. Perhaps on a linebacker on an underneath route against a wide receiver, or on a wide receiver that will crack-back block on a defensive back, that can be reviewed after a game." 

Calhoun thinks that for this rule to be successful in its implementation, the conference commissioners will need to form an oversight committee of sorts to rule on blows to the head that were called, and not called, on the previous Saturday. 

"It's pretty simple, really, to make a recommendation if there was a severity of a hit that's beyond what's acceptable in football, especially when it's a blow to the head," he said. "This is just a hit that, for the impact that's involved, it's dangerous. A lot of times the hit is glamorized just because it looks spectacular, at least in terms of the contact and the body movements that occur. We've got to get it out of the game."

As a coach, Calhoun knows as well as anyone that head-to-head contact will never completely leave football, and he reassured the worried masses that only the most malicious hits will be, for lack of a better word, targeted.

"There are things that are involved in tackling a ball-carrier where there's going to be some helmet-to-helmet contact. That's just going to happen," Calhoun concluded. "We're talking about somebody that's defenseless, a crack-back block on a linebacker or on a safety. A lot of times it's in the passing game, running a same route around the hashes where a defender hits a wide receiver or a tight end that's stretched out. There is a difference in that intent."

For those still not pacified by Calhoun's explanation, remember this: Two years ago, the college football community was sent into a similar uproar when it was announced that taunting penalties would now be treated as live-ball fouls and could result in a touchdown being wiped off the scoreboard. Surely you remember the outrage. Two seasons later, I think we can agree college football has emerged unscathed. Doomsday was avoided then, and it will be again with this rule. 

Sonny Dykes explains why practice scuffles are productive

Spring ball practice means that players are finally getting out of the confines of the weight room and are able to fly around in game like situations for the first time in months. With the competitive juices flowing, many times players end up "getting into it" a little more than they do in the fall.

Sonny Dykes is from the school of thought that believes that players getting into it on occasion during practice is a good thing.

"We want it to be competitive, and when you're trying to creat as many competitive situations as you can there are going to be some guys that get mad at each other occasionally...and we'll live with that." Dykes explained after practice yesterday.

"We don't want it to happen too often, and we want guys to do a good job of taking care of each other, but we want the competitive juices to flow and we want guys competing against each other as hard as they possibly can every single day, so that's important to us." 

Dan Mullen approves of recruiting degregulation...with a twist

If you spend any time on the Internet at all, you already know how the storyline has played out. The NCAA announced it was pulling back its rules limiting the amount of time coaches could spend contacting high school seniors in January. Not long after, the Big Ten came out in opposition of the new rules (or, specifically, lack thereof) and not one nanosecond later, the Internet community mocked the Big Ten in full force in essence for not wanting to work as hard as coaches from other conferences.

The thinking here has been that there are plenty of coaches across every school, conference and division thinking the same thing as those Big Ten coaches, only they haven't spoken out for fear of being labeled as not wanting to recruit as hard as his peers. 

More than a month after the changes were announced, a big-name coach has finally come out against the NCAA's proposal with an amendment of his own. Here's Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen with his take on recruiting deregulation, speaking to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“I don’t want to want to sound like a non-worker, but everybody worries about these new rules, and how you will be working 24 hours per day," Mullen said. "They want to know where is your down time? If they want a time for where coaches have to shut it down, then you designate four weeks in the summer where you’re completely off. You can do no recruiting during those four weeks, and you’ve eliminated the problem for all coaches."

It's unrealistic to expect coaches to recruit 24 hours a day for 365 days a year and not expect burnout to set in. Like in any other walk of life, college football coaches have responsibilities outside of their jobs. This shouldn't be breaking news to anyone reading this.

Mullen explains his four-weeks plan here:

“Currently, we have eight weeks where we’re not allowed to do anything with our (current) players. You can do that for coaches with recruiting, too. You would let the schools pick their four weeks because schools get out earlier in the South than they do up North. Schools up North, they would need later recruiting times to do camps and summer visits. You can pick your four weeks, and move from there. So for four weeks, you can’t do anything during the summer.”

Should Mullen's plan be implemented, one would have to study the ins and outs of the schedule because I'm not sure there's any point where taking off four weeks straight could work for the majority of programs, if any at all. But at least it's a start. 

Want to see Will Muschamp speak this spring? Here's your chance

The off-season is a time to hone skills and improve on the fundamentals of your position. For Florida head coach Will Muschamp, that means he'll be spending a lot of time on the public speaking circuit. 

The third-year Gators coach will speak 10 times between April 2 and the end of May, with the majority of those dates coming in May. Much like Florida's non-conference scheduling strategy, Muschamp won't leave the Sunshine State very often.

April 2 - Gainesville Quarterback Club
April 6 - Florida spring game
May 2 - Tampa Gator Club/Pinellas Gator Club
May 7 - Polk County Gator Club, Lakeland, Fla.
May 8 - Central Florida Gator Club, Orlando
May 14 - Gator Club of Jacksonville
May 15 - Atlanta Gator Club
May 20 - Jacksonville Quarterback Club
TBD - Daytona Beach Gator Club

A few Florida assistants will also get their public speaking work in, as defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin will speak in Fort Myers on May 6, wide receivers coach Joker Phillips will speak in Palm Beach and defensive line coach Bryant Young will speak in Panama City on the following day, and offensive line coach Tim Davis will visit with the Space Coast Gator Club in Brevard County on May 14. 

Expect each of those coaches, Muschamp in particular, to be masters at handling the "So, how we lookin' this year, Coach?" question by Memorial Day. 

Danny Hope: 'Coaching isn't all what happens behind the whistle'

Despite Danny Hope's 22-27 record in four seasons at Purdue, it was Hope's belief that declining ticket sales were the main reason for his dismissal.

"It came down to ticket sales," Hope told West Lafayette news station WLFI. "Ticket sales have been dropping here since 2000. It's not all about what happens just behind the whistle. You have to have some accountability behind the necktie as well."

The "necktie" that Hope was referring to was Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke.

"I know it wasn't an easy thing for Morgan to do, but I felt like if he had been a little more accountable then he would not have had to...exercised the responsibility of dismissing me."

"We had finished strong, and the players wanted us to be there. We hoped we had done enough. But I knew it was close. We had a tough stretch there and didn't come through at a critical time of the season and, obviously, had lost the support of our administration."

Hope felt that their strong finish to the 2012 season (winning three in a row to end the season) should have been enough to retain him and his staff.

Coaching is a complex profession that will always be about more than wins and losses, or ticket sales. And as we all know, when one door closes, another one opens in the coaching profession. Darrell Hazell has since been tabbed to take over the Boilermaker program, and will look for more consistency in all aspects from the gold and black in 2013.

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