Earlier today, the SEC announced it was suspending Ole Miss defensive back Trae Elston for this Saturday’s game against Texas for a “flagrant and dangerous act” for what the conference claimed was targeting the head area of a defenseless UTEP player.
This afternoon, the Pac-12 issued a similar punishment for Washington State’s Deone Bucannon. The safety will be suspended for the first half of Wazzu’s game at UNLV on Friday for a late hit on Eastern Washington receiver Greg Herd during Week 2.
Here’s the statement from Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott:
“While Mr. Bucannon was penalized on the field, I have deemed it necessary to add a half-game suspension,” said Scott. “This disciplinary action was part of our weekly review of all targeting and unnecessary roughness hits.”
“In order to appropriately protect our student-athletes, it is imperative that we monitor and when needed, act in situations where a blow to the head of a defenseless player was flagrant and/or unwarranted, especially in situations where the hit occurred well after the play was over” added Scott.
When there is a foul called for initiating contact on the head/neck area of a defenseless opponent that does not result in a player disqualification, NCAA Football Rules specifically call for a video review by the Conference office for possible additional sanctions before the next scheduled game.
Unlike Elston’s hit, Bucannon was flagged. You can view the collision HERE as well as what Bucannon had to say about it, both courtesy of cougcenter.com:
“My momentum was going that way and he was right there,” Bucannon said. “I wasn’t sure if he caught the ball or not. I tried to pull up a little bit, but I ended up hitting him high.”
“That’s still my fault and I should be more focused on the field and I should abide by the rules.”
If we’re going with personal opinion, this suspension seems more merited than the one Elston received from the SEC. I get that the game moves fast, but not only did Bucannon target Herd up high, he did so when it was clear that Herd would not be pulling in an overthrown pass. Herd even slowed up a bit and it certainly didn’t look like Bucannon responded in kind. If anything, he did the opposite.
Intentional or not, you can’t have that kind of hit. Not when more emphasis is placed on player safety the way that it is. The Pac-12 made the right call here.