NCAA change: Call it the Aaron Murray Rule

Quinton Dial checks out the results of his controversial hit on Aaron Murray. (Curtis Compton / AJC)

Quinton Dial checks out the results of his controversial hit on Aaron Murray. (Curtis Compton / AJC)

All those who were disappointed Alabama defensive end Quinton Dial wasn’t punished for his cheap-shot hit to the helmet of Aaron Murray in last season’s SEC Championship Game may take a measure of satisfaction from the fact that the NCAA rule on such plays has been toughened considerably.

As Tony Barnhart details in a column for, henceforth a quarterback who has thrown an interception will be considered a defenseless player and any shot above the shoulders will result in a penalty and a possible ejection.

Murray’s name isn’t attached to the new rule, but it might as well be.

Previously, targeting the head of a defenseless player with the crown of a helmet was supposed to result in a 15-yard penalty. Dial, who argued it was a clean hit, didn’t even get that after ramming Murray. The ruling on the field was that once he’d thrown the interception, Murray became a defender — though SEC coordinator of officials Steve Shaw later said unnecessary roughness should have been called.

The old rule also included the possibility of suspension after the game tape had been reviewed by the SEC office, but no such action was taken in the case of Dial’s hit on Murray.

However, this coming season, if the official feels the defender was intentionally targeting above the shoulders with his helmet, the offending player can be immediately ejected from the game.

If he’s thrown out in the first half, he must sit out the rest of the game. If the ejection comes in the second half, he also must sit out the first half of the next game. The official monitoring the replay can overturn the call.

In addition to a quarterback after a turnover, the definition of a defenseless player has been broadened to include, among others, a player who is throwing or has just thrown a pass; a receiver attempting to catch a pass or who has just caught one but hasn’t had time to protect himself; a returner attempting to catch or recover a kick; a player who receives a blind-side block; a ball carrier in the grasp of an opponent whose forward progress has been stopped; and a kicker in the act of kicking or just after a kick.

With all the attention being given to concussions and their possible aftermath in the NFL, it was inevitable that the college game would tighten up this aspect of its rule book. Yes, it’s a contact sport, but plays like Dial’s unnecessary blow to Murray add nothing to the game and are, in fact, quite dangerous.

Count me among those definitely in favor of this rule change.

Of course, the matter of intent still will be a judgement call. And there’s always the possibility (particularly in the SEC, where you have the likes of Penn Wagers) that you’ll get an official whose enforcement of the rule is questionable.

But at least this should cause some defenders to think twice before hammering a defenseless player if it means they might lose playing time.

Speaking of NCAA rule changes, UGA’s Greg McGarity must be pleased that, as a result of 75 schools asking for an override, the controversial new rule allowing unlimited texting and calling of recruits has been tabled for now and will be reconsidered by the Division 1 Board of Directors in May.

The board, which earlier had suspended a rule deregulating who can perform recruiting tasks and another lifting restrictions on what recruiting materials can be sent to prospects, also will reconsider a new rule prohibiting coaches from scouting future opponents in person unless they are participating in the same tournament or a doubleheader event at the same site. (You can read all about it at the NCAA website.)

If the suspension of the rule on recruiting personnel stands, you’ve got to wonder what duties Nick Saban and other coaches are going to come up with for all those non-coaching recruiting staffers they’ve hired lately. Knowing Saban’s creativity in envelope-pushing, though, I have a feeling he already has a plan. Meanwhile, Michael Carvell reports on how non-coaching personnel can be used — and apparently already are being used in some cases — under existing rules.


Georgia's current indoor practice facility is very limited. (University of Georgia)

Georgia's current indoor practice facility is very limited. (University of Georgia)

Bulldogs senior QB Murray touched on a hot-button issue with a lot of UGA fans Thursday when he tweeted: “About that time UGA gets an indoor facility. Lets get this trending #UGAindoor.”

“I don’t know where that came from,” Mark Richt told the Macon Telegraph’s Seth Emerson when asked about Murray’s tweets. “But football is an outdoor sport. We don’t wanna get too soft around here.”

Where it came from, was Murray being impressed by the indoor facility at Oklahoma, where he went for quarterback coaching over spring break.

Richt went on to concede that when he first came to Georgia a full-size indoor practice facility (as opposed to the much more limited 20-yard facility UGA currently has) was planned, “but there were so many other things that needed to get done before that, we were gonna spend money on other things that were more important.”

Basically, a few years ago Richt opted for a complete renovation of the Butts-Mehre training facility rather than have the indoor field.

Richt told the Telegraph he’d “have have loved to have one,” but “if we were gonna have one I wanted it to be here (at the main practice field). If it was gonna be a mile or two miles away, beyond walking distance away, I didn’t wanna do it. Because one of the benefits of having it is being able to start practice, and if lightning strikes nearby, if it’s not safe, you roll right in and you continue practice and all that. But if you’ve got to stop, load up a bus, take it down there, or have a bunch of buses sitting there waiting just in case and all that, it just wasn’t gonna be worth it to us.”

And as Emerson points out, in order to have a full-size indoor facility at the Dogs’ practice complex, Richt would have to give up one of the outdoor practice fields he has now, probably the one closest to Butts-Mehre.

Still, fans (and now his quarterback) keep bringing an indoor facility up.

As I wrote here three weeks ago, I’m not sure an indoor practice facility is the most important issue for Georgia’s program. I believe it was the right call when Richt went for the renovated and expanded training facility instead. Yes, many schools have indoor practice fields, but not all major programs think it’s necessary. Florida doesn’t.

What do you think? Is Richt right in thinking this is something his program can do without? Or should he try to get the athletic department to turn loose some of those surplus funds for an indoor field?

UPDATE: The AJC’s Chip Towers has posted a report on the indoor practice facility debate.

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49 comments Add your comment


March 22nd, 2013
9:39 am

If you can tell me how an indoor practice facility will help players learn how to block, tackle, or otherwise GATA, then I’d support one. Otherwise, they should practice like they play – and they play outside.

Columbus Dawg

March 22nd, 2013
9:45 am

Attention all inbred Bama posters, (and imposters), your dirty player, Dial, and dirty recruiter, Saban, are being called out and there is no defending either. So don’t even try. If you do, you will look like all the Auburn idiots trying to defend Newton a couple of years ago.


March 22nd, 2013
9:46 am

Murray’s getting pretty rebellious.

1) He goes and trains with a Qb coach WITHOUT PERMISSION from Bobo or Richt

2) He publicly criticizes UGA’s facilities, which Richt planned and approved

Time for some Hutson Mason?

Need a team player.

Columbus Dawg

March 22nd, 2013
9:55 am

Tell me again why Murray would need permission to travel to Oklahoma, he’s a grown man. Please provide substantial video of WHY the Dawgs need Mason, very slow afoot, takes entirely too long to get set, could not a patch on Murray’s butt.

nick rails

March 22nd, 2013
9:57 am

Getting rebellious? Hutson Mason? Complete moron alert.

Murray’s absolutley correct we need and indoor facility ASAP. We had 2 practices cancelled due to weather this spring. Believe it or not practices are actually important and there’s no such thing as “make up” practices after you cancel. What kinf of profit did the Dawg generate last yr? bout $30 mill?This should be priority one Mcgarity… the only other school the doesn’t have one is UF.

Columbus Dawg

March 22nd, 2013
10:01 am

Tell me again why Murray, a grown man, needed permission to travel to Oklahoma? Also, please provide substantial video evidence of why UGA needs to start Mason. Very slow afoot, takes entirely too long to get set, is not in same league as Murray, period. Watch G-Day game, make note of Mason’s play, then compare to Murray’s play. NO comparison.


March 22nd, 2013
10:01 am


You must be joking….. (Sean Connery’s James Bond voice)

But Seriously...

March 22nd, 2013
10:12 am

I could see it if the climate here was such that we got a lot of snow during the season, but this is Georgia. Spend the money on something else.


March 22nd, 2013
10:16 am

I would rather have a trophy case full of harware from a team tat knows how to slobberknock. UGa doesnt need an indoor practice facility. Get out there in the elements and get tough! Too many wimps these days…..


March 22nd, 2013
10:44 am

The weather that stops practice around here is normally lighting related and there is no such thing as being “wimpy” around lightning . So if you only get around 15 practices in the spring session and your losing a couple of them a year on average due to lighting and T-storms a indoor field makes sense.

Jim n Buckhead

March 22nd, 2013
10:48 am

Texas A&M has a 100 ft indoor field for the O and also a separate one for the D. UGA has a 30′ by 50′. Now I understand the space limits so its time to demo the Steg since UGA doesnt play basketball anyway or the baseball field is available.

Hamad Meander

March 22nd, 2013
10:54 am

I don’t have a problem with the NCAA changing the rule that a QB is defenseless after an interception, but does that mean he is ineligible to tackle the interceptor? Football is a physical game, and making a tackle as a QB is not an ideal situation.


March 22nd, 2013
10:55 am

@ WDE …usually lightning storms doesnt last too long. Get back out there and get after it . Sheesh what did teams do back in the good ole days? bunch of wimps I say.

Columbus Dawg

March 22nd, 2013
11:16 am

Hamad, the rules will still say that the QB becomes a defender, new rule says that player can not target said player above the shoulders with the crown of the helmet. The new rule does not say that QB can not be blocked, just can not cheap shot like Bama’s dirty players like to do. (Also see 2010 BCS game Colt McCoy hit). Bama players want to be like that P.O.S. Auburn player a few years ago.

Boo Radley

March 22nd, 2013
11:20 am

Recruits compare facilities. We need this indoor field to stay even with our SEC brethren.

Skokie Dog

March 22nd, 2013
11:24 am

The new rule on cheap shots isn’t worth anything if the referee is standing right by the offending player, yet makes no call. That’s what we all saw in the SEC championship game. Even an MLB umpire would have been able to see that cheap shot, which was already a violation of the existing rules. If no yellow hanky flies, then the rule change won’t matter a bit.

Owen Scott, III

March 22nd, 2013
11:28 am

QBs are going to take some hard hits but that one was ridiculous. A pat on the back for the NCAA- they got this one right.


March 22nd, 2013
12:18 pm

Tell me again why Murray, a grown man, needed permission to travel to Oklahoma?

I don’t know, could be he traveled out there on somebody else’s dime.


March 22nd, 2013
1:18 pm

For the love of God, stop your whining. Get over it. Done already.

dogs are the ultimate shoulda woulda couldas but rarely just do it.

Flo- Ri - Duh

March 22nd, 2013
2:33 pm

Dial was a cheap shot – back in the day some OL or FB would have gotten him on a crack back when the ref wasn’t looking. Saban should have said it was wrong and kept him out of the bowl game.

Flo- Ri - Duh

March 22nd, 2013
2:37 pm

Buckeye- You whine when you get a hang nail. Concussions are not to be taken lightly. Can I get a free shot on you?


March 22nd, 2013
3:25 pm

Rumor is Jarvis tried to run him down, but Dial ran a faster 40, so he couln’t catch him…..

The Tide is Rolling and Nothing Can Stop it!

March 22nd, 2013
3:26 pm




The Tide is Rolling and Nothing Can Stop it!

March 22nd, 2013
3:27 pm

HA, you guys are broadcasting the fact that a rule has been put in place because your QB got punked like a #@$^#$ on TV.


March 22nd, 2013
3:31 pm

Tide is Rolling,

A rule was put into place t okeep your school from cheating and signing to many recruits, so pipe it down

Flat Tire Doesnt Live in Delusionalville Ga.

March 22nd, 2013
4:39 pm

We need to continue spending our money on giving pay raises to the coaching staff every year for 2 or more loss seasons and continued losses in big games and not worry about upgrading facilities to keep up with other top programs

Granthams The Man!

March 22nd, 2013
5:45 pm

I like the new rule. But, like every other rule, it only works when applied equally.

Had this new rule been in place in the SEC Championship, I mean the national Championship game, the Officials still would not have called it. Not until a UGA player did the same thing.

It was already illegal to go helmet to helmet. They still let Alabama get away with it, just like they do with everything else.

The rules aren’t the problem. The SEC Officials are the problem. See Penn Wagers and 75% of the rest.


March 22nd, 2013
8:34 pm

No matter if Murray had become a defender after his pass was intercepted, Dial’s hit on Murray’s helmet should have caused a flag. It’s unthinkable that two officials were right on top of the play and didn’t take action or make some vague or cursory attempt to discuss the play. To the fans, it appeared they made a no-call on the play for the benefit of Alabama. Bama won the game and won it fairly and squarely, lucky perhaps at the end but they deserved to win. The DAWGS simply couldn’t stop the run in the second half and Bama ate their lunch. Hopefully, the DAWGS learned something on this game especially since the same thing happened vs. LSU the previous year.


March 22nd, 2013
11:59 pm

“Tide is rolling the Updyke train, and Dial has pooped on the tracks”………..Go away young man, this is a “grown-up” site where reasonable mature gentlemen [and women] discuss college football, of which you have no knowledge…………….RED


March 23rd, 2013
12:01 am

………”Roll damn Harvey”

LHarding Dawg

March 23rd, 2013
8:10 am

Until the SEC offices are moved out of Birmingham, it does matter what rules are enacted by the NCAA, they just will not call them against Bama. Never has and never will.

Rabun Dawg

March 23rd, 2013
2:41 pm

Fire Dave Perno, the sooner the better. 2013 diamond Dawgs are in the “pits”, now 0-4 in SEC play and 8-13 overall. This team has lost to Kennesaw State, Georgia State, GSU, Liberty, Furman, Appy St., and swept by Texas A&M last weekend, and Ala. yesterday! Need I say more!!


March 23rd, 2013
3:51 pm

Good for Murray. If he feels as if Bobo and Richt are not helping him to improve, then he has a right to seek out a person that will make him a better QB. Fundamentally he needed tweaking and CMR and CMB weren’t making the proper adjustments. Also this will improve his stock for the next NFL draft. It was poor officiating in last year’s SECCG and it really showed from that play. It is not only protecting the QB but policing the Officials.

Enough what the Mason crap!

March 23rd, 2013
8:59 pm

Sick and tired of people saying put in Mason! Mason has done what exactly that deserves him starting??? When Murray leaves and you Mason thumpers see that kid in a live game…….mark my words…..your going to miss Aaron Murray. Dawg fans are so fickle!


March 23rd, 2013
9:41 pm

Enough………..Bravo my man, there are many who post here who haven’t the first clue about college football. Unfortunateley they come from all over the SEC and beyond. Aaron Murray is a man among children, yes he has had some problems, but those who study college football would take him in a heartbeat…………Great post………..Regards, RED


March 23rd, 2013
9:47 pm

I do offer my compliaments to Hutson Mason however, the kid has been waiting a long time for his shot at being the QB at Georgia…………When his number is called I think he will be a capable manager for a pretty strong 2014 Bulldog team.

Moist Dawg

March 24th, 2013
10:33 am

our indoor field is a joke compared to other teams in football. it makes me sick that our program makes all this money for the school and then the school wont pony up the money to build a desent indoor field. then they throw some new paint on our dump basketball stadium and call it a renovation. bunch of cheepskates. we need some leaders in athens that will appreciate who is paying the bills.
as for you mason lovers. you make me want to throw up. Amurraygency will lead us to glory this year and I am writing down the names of all you haters because you should be kicked out of Dawg Nation


March 24th, 2013
1:21 pm

Moist Dawg……….That would be pretty sweet to kick some of these jerks out of Dawg Nation, I do believe however many are really fans of other college teams. I do agree some are just misguided fools who fancy themselves college football experts. Me?, I don’t let them bother me, I just get a kick out of messin’ with ‘em…………carry-on and give ‘em hell my Dawg brother………RED

Georgia DAWG

March 24th, 2013
10:13 pm

Aaron Murray had every right to seek addition guidance on his throwing technique without permission from the UGA coaches; his spring break, his own money for the clinic costs, and by his own admission, he learned an even more accurate throwing motion.

Yes, UGA football does need a full-sized indoor practice facility. Build it where the current track field is located and relocate it adjacent to the soccer field if this is at all feasible.

Good rule change to further protect defenless players from helmet-to-helmet contact. Now, NCAA, just make sure your referees call a penalty when it happens and enforce it.

Go Dawgs!

LHarding Dawg

March 25th, 2013
6:22 am

I guess it will get where they don’t need helmets anymore. The way it’s going, Hershel would get a 15 yard flag for running over Bill Bates.

Whiskey Breath

March 25th, 2013
7:53 am

Let’s face it, as football fans, we all lose. Basically if you like hitting. you will see less of it.
The QB can give a hit, but can’t receive one. Can you imagine the pressure on the ref to make the correct call? No way anybody is going to be happy with his decision. There will be more touchdowns,
because the defense will be afraid they will get a penalty for bringing the guy down.
Congradulations Bulldykes, you have made it less of a game for all of us.
Shame on all of you.

Mr. Peabody

March 25th, 2013
8:23 am

Columbus Dawg really man, did I really read your post of, “Watch G-Day game, make note of Mason’s play, then compare to Murray’s play. NO comparison.” You’re nothing short of an idiot! You base your response to their play on the G-DAY GAME? Enough said, go play chess or go fish because your football knowledge is inept.


March 25th, 2013
6:45 pm

UGA should go First Class on everything that could help vs. competition in all sports. UGA has the money and the fan base to support a 100% effort to be THE BEST in every sport. Think about it —- how can some place like U. of Alabama even think about out-spending UGA on sports or anything else? All it takes is the decision to BE THE BEST and UGA can do it. If we don’t, then we have to be happy with letting Alabama, Florida, and LSU be the top teams in our conference and in the USA.

Maybe our new president will see what Being Number One can do for a university. Thank God and Greyhound Mike Adams is on the way out!


March 25th, 2013
11:06 pm

Whiskey Breath…………I beg to differ. I played football many years ago when you could get away with “cheap shots” as Mr. Dial put on Aaron Murray, in fact I had coaches who would encourage us to crack ‘em when they weren’t looking. My point is, I loved D as I loved to hit people, but I assure you a “through the body” strike with your helmet in a guys chest [with him looking]……..was about as good as it gets, you lose nothing………..if you don’t believe me, ask the guy Jadavion Clowney nailed in their bowl game………….now that was good clean hardnosed football…………RED


March 26th, 2013
10:51 am





March 26th, 2013
1:30 pm

Ozzfest what rock are you living under? UGA opens with Clemson at Clemson this year. UGA has played Boise State,OSU and Arizona State? Besides their tough SEC schedule who else do you want them to play?


March 27th, 2013
8:02 am

Finally someone said it right- Did not need a rule change only an attitude change by the SEC Head office in favoring certain teams in big games. It was a helmet to helmet hit and was uncalled for. There were two officials that observed the play and called nothing and yes it did have an effect on the outcome of the game.

Go Dawgs


March 27th, 2013
8:45 am

The only thing wrong on the play where Dial hit Murray was Murray’s pass. I believe Dial intentionally sought out Murray but that doesn’t make it a cheap shot. Dial led with his shoulder and happened to make some incidental contact with the helmet. Murray has got to be more aware in that situation. Go Dawgs.


March 27th, 2013
2:29 pm

Alabama terriorized Auburn just like Georgia did. The whole Auburn team was dismantled by everybody. If you look at the game tapes from Georgia game there are several plays as bad as this one. We did not cry about ours so you need to go in a corner and pout. Thats what Auburn did we did not complain.