SEC’s decision to not suspend Dial sends wrong message

Aaron Murray crumbles after helmet-to-helmet hit by Quinton Dial, who wasn't penalized. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Aaron Murray crumbles after helmet-to-helmet hit by Alabama's Quinton Dial. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

If Alabama goes on to defeat Notre Dame in the BCS championship game, there’s a pretty good chance that Quinton Dial will play only a minor role. So the problem with what happened Friday is not that the SEC just gave Alabama some unfair advantage by avoiding suspending one of its players — the problem is that it is sending mixed messages about how much it really cares about head injuries in football.

Or are hits to the head only important when it’s convenient?

After reviewing three plays from the SEC championship game between Georgia and Alabama, most notably Dial’s helmet-to-helmet hit on Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray, the conference declined to issue any suspensions, releasing a statement that said, “After review, all subsequent action will be handled internally by the two institutions and the conference office is satisfied with their actions.”

To translate: The SEC will allow Alabama coach Nick Saban to decide whether to suspend one of his defensive ends for the national championship game. Insert laugh track.

Now, before we jump into the obvious conspiracy theories — 1) Is SEC commissioner Mike Slive just doing whatever he can to ensure the conference wins its seventh straight BCS title; and 2) Will he be mowing Nick Saban’s lawn after the game? — let’s give equal time to the game’s infractions. Steve Shaw, the SEC’s director of officials, also reviewed a roughing-the-passer penalty on Georgia’s Alec Ogletree and deemed it not worthy of a suspension. He also looked at Sheldon Dawson’s attempted eye-gouge of Alabama’s Dee Millner following a kickoff return. Again, no suspension.

Steve Shaw said the Dial's hit should've been a penalty but didn't rise to same level of others that drew suspensions. (AP photo)

Shaw said Dial's hit should've been a penalty but didn't rise to level of suspension. (AP photo)

But Dial’s second-quarter helmet-to-helmet hit on Murray — see video below –easily was the most flagrant foul in the game, made worse by the fact that no flag was thrown. Murray had just had a pass intercepted by Alabama’s Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix at the Tide’s 18. During the return, Murray became a defensive player and Dial had the right to block him. But he came from out of view and collided with Murray helmet-to-helmet. CBS analyst Gary Danielson said, “Aaron Murray, you have to keep your head on a swivel, but that is just unnecessary roughness and a hit to the head …”

Shaw said Dial should’ve been called for a personal foul. “We should’ve flagged it,” he said, adding that an official who seemed to be looking at the play actually was focused on something else. (Note: Even if Dial was penalized, it would’ve affected field position but Alabama would’ve retained possession

Slive's conference is in position to win its seventh straight BCS title. Conspiracy theorists: that was a factor. (AP photo)

Slive's SEC can win seventh straight BCS title. Conspiracy theorists: That was a factor. (AP photo)

because the hit came after the interception.)

The bigger issue here is why Dial is not being suspended. The SEC has suspended three other players for hits to the head, one last season for an Arkansas player’s hit on a punt returner; two this season for hits by Mississippi and South Carolina defensive backs against wide receivers. I spoke to Shaw for 30 minutes and he never would, or could, give specifics as to what prevented Dial’s hit from being considered worthy of a suspension.

He talked about the players in the other three situations being “defenseless.” He talked about the fact that Murray was technically a “defender.” He went on about how “our commissioner and really the SEC has been at the forefront of player safety.”

But when asked for specifics about what Dial would have had to do get suspended, Shaw spoke in grays.

“Do I condone hit? No. It’s something that should’ve been [penalized],” Shaw said. “But as for the acid test of the other one-game suspensions, overall it doesn’t rise to the same level.”

Here’s the problem: A conference either sets the bar on helmet hits and head injuries or it doesn’t. This looks fishy, especially given the proximity to BCS championship game.

When asked if this same decision would’ve been made in September, Shaw said, “My commissioner would say, ‘I don’t really go into hypotheticals.”

When told that left the door open to theories that Alabama and Dial were being given preferential treatment because of the title game, he again gave a vague response.

Finally when asked a third time if the impending BCS title game influenced the SEC’s decision to not suspend Dial, Shaw said, “No.”

But I’m less concerned about Quinton Dial than I am the seriousness of head injuries in football. With the blur of concussion-related litigation in the NFL and the suicides of several former players being tied to depression, dementia and other forms of brain damage resulting from head injuries, this is no time for inconsistent rulings from conference officials. There is too much at stake.

Yes, even more than a BCS title.

By Jeff Schultz

Here’s one YouTube view of Dial’s hit on Murray

446 comments Add your comment

Rick James

December 14th, 2012
12:19 pm

The SEC wants Alabama to bring home the title..Murray could have seriously injured.Insane.

Yep

December 14th, 2012
12:19 pm

The message you are sending is that you are a cry baby.

toga

December 14th, 2012
12:21 pm

If you can’t run with the big dogs, stay on the porch you eye pokers. It was a clean hit, get over it.

Roll Tide

what of it?

December 14th, 2012
12:22 pm

well, at least they’re concerned about player safety

After further review

December 14th, 2012
12:23 pm

Probably should have been called during the game. Doubt that Saban will choose to suspend the player for the national champinship game, Mybe he’ll take a page from other coaches’ playbooks and suspend Dial for one of he cupcake games early next season.

BigDawg

December 14th, 2012
12:23 pm

GADAWGS7

December 14th, 2012
12:24 pm

What a bs missed call that was! It may not have changed the outcome of the game,but to let this not go unpunished is awful.

Bruce Mac

December 14th, 2012
12:24 pm

Let em play. They should never have suspended the other guys. Flag them and eject them at the time or move on.

Mad Dawg 20/20

December 14th, 2012
12:25 pm

toga. You are an idiot. I was not a clean hit. He even stated that it should have been a penalty.

“Do I condone hit? No. It’s something that should’ve been [penalized],” Shaw said.

Gator Mike

December 14th, 2012
12:27 pm

Schultz is getting old. Calls are missed in every game, and none of us like it. The SEC made a decision. Leave it alone, The corpse from the game will not be buried for at least 6 months the way some of you are moaning. Bama Won! Get over it.

CJ

December 14th, 2012
12:28 pm

I’m rooting for Alabama to destroy Notre Dame. Nevertheless, Schultz is right; Dial should have been suspended.

te29wr

December 14th, 2012
12:31 pm

Shaw was such a poor official that they made he head od officials for football to get him off the field and they will not let him answer questions at media day or at other time when his authority is in question
I love the SEC but too many times have they looked the other way when Ala. is concerned.
But the way have you noticed how bad the official were in all of football this year. Iknow instent replay has to do this but many times they get it wriong after a closer look i.e. the game where the Colts knees were on the ground way beforte the pass was thrown How many agree?

Butt Hurt Schultz

December 14th, 2012
12:31 pm

Waaaaaah Schultz. The eye pokers have forgotten about it so why don’t you give it a rest. Geeez.

toga

December 14th, 2012
12:32 pm

Look at the video, Dial leads with his shoulder. Murray cowards at the last moment and trys to curl his body in a fetal position. Murray actually leaned his head into Dial.

tko

December 14th, 2012
12:34 pm

The one thing overlooked by the hit is that Murray missed a wide open receiver for a touchdown on this play.

Butt Hurt Schultz

December 14th, 2012
12:35 pm

“…easily was the most flagrant foul in the game.”

HOMERISM at its best. I would say the eyepoke was just as bad.

Plunge

December 14th, 2012
12:36 pm

Typical Cry Baby response by Schultz. Get over it.

Hankie Aron

December 14th, 2012
12:38 pm

Jeff- Warren Sapp was suspended for his hit against Chad Clifton and the situation was exactly the same if I’m not wrong. So you are correct in pointing out the SEC just wants #7 in a row. Head injuries and player safety be damned

Butt Hurt Schultz

December 14th, 2012
12:38 pm

HOMERISM… all under the guise of player safety. Really?

toga

December 14th, 2012
12:38 pm

The only thing better than watching Bama win is watching Georgia lose. Lifetime contract for Richt please.

ROLL TIDE ROLL

Hankie Aron

December 14th, 2012
12:40 pm

toga- I would say the same thing for McCarron if one of our guys did it. Helment to Helmet hits on defenseless players is ILLEGAL. Your Pall Mall smoke break is over, get back to work.

Cotton

December 14th, 2012
12:40 pm

Dial? His hit was a legal block. I was expecting possible suspensions for Ogletree and the UGA eye-gouger.

What?

December 14th, 2012
12:40 pm

You stupid red necks are wrong,Dial should have been suspended and I hope the Irish beats your ass.You need to get off your cousin dude that is called Incest.

DIT

December 14th, 2012
12:41 pm

I know people are saying to the UGA fans to get over it, but please keep in mind that it’s these blog writers that keep bringing up the game.
It’s over, Murray was over it in the 2nd half and had a great 2nd half. To all of these so-called “beat writers” please let it go! The game is 2 weeks over. Bama won, most of the Georgia people have long accepted it yet y’all make it sound like we have not.
I’m ready to hang in Orlando and watch my Dawgs beat the Huskers! Go Dawgs!

Kyle

December 14th, 2012
12:42 pm

what a joke the SEC commish is……HOPEFULLY, this moron Dial gets injured early in the NC game so he doesnt get to play. College football does not need slime like this guy. Amazing his COACH lets this go without any punishment……

Archie

December 14th, 2012
12:42 pm

Regardless of the hit, Murray got up and moved on to what was next. Go and do likewise!

Ga Tech

December 14th, 2012
12:43 pm

Shut up puppies, everyone knows you all play dirty football…bout time you got a taste of your own medicine….Great hit on Murry Bama!

Paul Finebaum

December 14th, 2012
12:43 pm

Jeff, your but must still hurt pretty bad…LOL

DB

December 14th, 2012
12:43 pm

Where is the eye gouge outcry Schlutz? The hit on Murray should have been flagged but it was a “football” play. The eye gouge was not. Is Richt suspending the eye gouger?

DIT

December 14th, 2012
12:44 pm

@Ga Tech – ClassLESS post. I expect nothing different from your fan base.

El Bravo

December 14th, 2012
12:44 pm

That hit, in my humble opinion, does not warrant a suspension. It deserves a flag for the helmet-to-helmet contact but not a suspension because Dial leads with his shoulder and not his head. The helmet-to-helmet contact was incidental (if not accidental). Then again, we would not be having this conversation if Georgia had won the game. We would all be on our way to Miami instead of whining at the AJC site…

Peter

December 14th, 2012
12:44 pm

TOGA…..you are the slime of the earth…actually thought people from Tuscaloosa would have been humbled after the F5….aparently, that’s not the case with you moron…

Ga Tech

December 14th, 2012
12:45 pm

Steve Shaw, the SEC’s director of officials, also reviewed a roughing-the-passer penalty on Georgia’s Alec Ogletree and deemed it not worthy of a suspension. He also looked at Sheldon Dawson’s attempted eye-gouge of Alabama’s Dee Millner following a kickoff return. Again, no suspension

Al

December 14th, 2012
12:45 pm

@ Ga Tech

11 out of 12 42-10……….now go away!!

What?

December 14th, 2012
12:46 pm

Bama necks did you crush your daughters Marlboros when you were on top

J'Dinkalage Morgoone

December 14th, 2012
12:47 pm

This story needs to be put to bed. The more they talk about this hit, the more UGA seems like poor losers. Football is a violent sport. A QB that throws an interception has two options: get off the field quickly, or try to make a tackle and deal with the consequences of being a defender. Helmets will crash together on a hard hit, which this was. Dial is 50% bigger than Murray – it was going to hurt.

Either way, did it affect the outcome of the game? Murray seemed to be able to put together some great drives in the second half. There were no ill effects.

Mr. Schultz, I believe you have watched enough football to know that this is how the game is played. You are pandering to your UGA readers by continuing to discuss this. If you want to prevent something like this from happening again, then make the QB off limits after an INT. Or teach them to be aware that they will be blocked and probably by someone very big and fast.

Wet Willie...keep on smiling

December 14th, 2012
12:47 pm

Today must be cry me a river day over in Georgieeeeee!

Hey Jeff..how about the eye poker and Tree’s headshot on AJ?????Come on sport you can’t have it both ways can you?

1980…..man that is a long long long time ago…Joe Cocker…”Cry me River”

GA Tech ....

December 14th, 2012
12:47 pm

I am still hurting….really bad…….UGA owns us 11-1……..we just got out stingers ramed again 42-10…….It hurts so bad…

DIT

December 14th, 2012
12:48 pm

Can we all just agree that no suspensions should be warranted, but flags should have been thrown on both sides during the game? OK, Good…….. Now let’s move past all these so-called beat writers crap that want to re-live this and talk about the up coming Bowl games!

Kirby Dumb

December 14th, 2012
12:50 pm

It’s all about winning Dude! It’s Bama..are you crazy…anything goes!!

Butt Hurt Schultz

December 14th, 2012
12:50 pm

Great post JDink and DIT.

Roll Tide and good luck next year. You think Murray stays?

Wet Willie...keep on smiling

December 14th, 2012
12:50 pm

Rambo said he wanted Eddie Lacey put in jail …the charge is the Mike Vick killing dogs charge!

Bo Duke

December 14th, 2012
12:50 pm

Oh Jeffy continue to take all the shots you want to at Bama and Saban (remember the crack you made about his height before the SEC CG ?)
As the 2nd biggest UGA apologist (behind Mark Bradley) I know you feel compelled to continue to disparage a program that has repeatedly proven its superiority over the dogs.
Please pick ND in the NCG so I can be assured of the 15th title arriving in T- Town
Maybe you will ever allow this post to stay on despite your dislike of the 1st amendment for those that dare to disagree with you.

DIT

December 14th, 2012
12:51 pm

Bama 31 ND 17
Dawgs 48 Neb 24
So. Cal 52 tech 3
So. Car. 38 Michigan 10
Gators 43 Cards 3
N. Ill. 28 Free Shoes -1

What?

December 14th, 2012
12:51 pm

Saban off to Cleveland and lots of red necks are prescribed Zoloft along with the Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.

DIT

December 14th, 2012
12:52 pm

I thnk Murray stays. I think he knows that his stock is not strong right now.

GA Tech ....

December 14th, 2012
12:52 pm

We really dont qualify for a bowl…..well, we did get a waiver to play in a bowl with our LOSING record……but hey, we are the wrech from Ga Tech……otherwise known as losersville

george

December 14th, 2012
12:52 pm

Dial will get his. Mother Nature takes care of folks like that.

Bo Duke

December 14th, 2012
12:53 pm

The video is clear, he hit him with his shoulder first.
nothing wrong with that.

Butt Hurt Schultz

December 14th, 2012
12:53 pm

@DIT – Maybe we can get a rematch of one of the best games I have ever seen.