Quinton Dial's cheap shot taken at Aaron Murray in the SEC Championship Game was unwarranted and he should be punished for it.
After Murray threw an interception, Dial targeted the quarterback and delivered a near knockout blow. A penalty flag should have been thrown for unnecessary roughness, as the league has made it a priority to protect quarterbacks after interceptions. But that flag never came.
A suspension might be coming instead. Actually, this kind of dirty play nearly guarantees a suspension from the league. It's not like the league hasn't suspended players for a game before.
Upon film review, the SEC suspended Ole Miss' Trae Elston for his hit on UTEP receiver Jordan Leslie, and then suspended D.J. Swearinger for one game after a brutal hit on UAB wide receiver Patrick Hearn.
Both of those were violent collisions, but watching Murray take that shot from Dial last Saturday was similar to watching UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos win by knockout.
Seriously, it was a shot that even made football purists, including myself, call for a penalty flag. The pure fear in Murray's eyes told the entire story.
If the league was willing to come down on both Swearinger and Elston earlier for hitting receivers, there's no question that the SEC officials will take a look at this video and suspend Dial for the national championship game.
And really, that's the right call. Because it's not like this is Dial's first offense by any means. Remember the Arkansas game last year?
Dial took a late shot at Tyler Wilson, which did get a penalty flag thrown on him. So with this being his second big-time cheap shot against a quarterback, the league has no other choice but to suspend him.
But the real question here is will the league suspend him for the national championship game?
In a world of sports that's dominated by ridiculous fines and penalties, such as the New Orleans Saints' "bounty scandal" and NBA commissioner David Stern fining the San Antonio Spurs $250,000 for sitting players (say what?!), rarely do sports fans agree on suspensions. With a suspension potentially knocking a player out the national championship game, controversy should ensue.
Speaking of fines, SI.com's Stewart Mandel tweeted that his colleague Tim Layden said a hit like that would bring upon a $25,000 fine.
CBS's Bruce Feldman tweeted about it as well, implying that he believes a suspension will not happen.
CBS halftime crew wonders if SEC will suspend Dial for a game -BCS game-for that brutal hit. I'm guessing SEC won't.— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) December 1, 2012
But as Fox 6 News' Mike Dubberly pointed out, this is a new era of football, and hits like the one Dial had on Murray can call for a one-game fine.
Back in the day, the hit by Dial is "just football".These days, it can get you a one-game suspension by the league.— MikeDubberlyGDA (@MikeDubberlyGDA) December 1, 2012
Murray was not only defenseless because he didn't see it coming, but his helmet was targeted and the play could have ended with Murray concussed.
Think about that. What if Murray had been lost for the game after that play? Would fans have gotten to see the greatest SEC championship in its 21-year history?
Thankfully, that wasn't the case, and to ensure that cheap shots like this won't happen again, the SEC's front office needs to come down on Dial and suspend him, even if that means him missing the national championship.
It seems harsh to punish a guy and make him miss playing in a championship game, but this is a statement that must be made.
Anything less would be an injustice.