One of the many strange moments of last Thursday's game between Texas and Iowa State included an apparent cheap shot by Longhorns wide receiver Mike Davis to Cyclones defensive back Deon Broomfield.
The play came on a Joe Bergeron six-yard touchdown run in the third quarter when Davis, in the slot, dove at Broomfield's knees. Davis was flagged for an unnecessary roughness penalty, but no further action was taken.
On Friday, the Big 12 released a statement reprimanding Davis, but did not offer any sort of suspension.
In accord with the Conference’s Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct policy, Mr. Davis’ action was in violation of the rule prohibiting physically abusive acts toward an opponent’s team members during a contest. Given the heightened emphasis on player safety, unnecessary and illegal acts such as this have no place in the game and are unacceptable. Mr. Davis is also put on notice that any future such behavior may result in a more serious penalty, including possible suspension.
What Davis did was just as much a targeting penalty as a defender making helmet-to-helmet contact, but instead of aiming for the head, Davis aimed for another vulnerable spot: the knees.
Davis took to his Twitter account to defend himself, claiming he was doing what he was told.
I don't have a history of being a dirty player & have never been called one. The tape without knowledge of the circumstances is unfair.— Money Magic Davis jr (@MikeDavis_1) October 4, 2013
The play call was an option to either a run or WR screen. My job is to protect our WR screen & block my defender. I wasn't aware it was .— Money Magic Davis jr (@MikeDavis_1) October 4, 2013
I wasn't aware it was a run. Check the tape & you can see our other WR is also blocking his defender. I did exactly what we are taught to— Money Magic Davis jr (@MikeDavis_1) October 4, 2013
All that being said I am happy #26 was not injured. This is the last time I will address this topic. Longhorn Nation thanks for the support.— Money Magic Davis jr (@MikeDavis_1) October 4, 2013
Thing is, doing your job or playing to the whistle has nothing to do with how you block. Diving at the knees is poor form and there's no place for it.
Davis maintains that he had no intent of hurting Broomfield. It's not up to anyone to decide if that's true or not. However, it is up to the Big 12 office to determine if what Davis physically did was worthy of further punishment.
It was a blatant dive at the knees with no attempt to do anything else. That's targeting and should be treated as such. Players who are ejected for launching and/or leading with the crown of their helmet aren't given a second chance. Why should Davis?
The fact that Davis was not ejected and then suspended appropriately, meaning for the first half of the Oklahoma game, was the wrong decision by the officials and the conference. If player safety is as important as the Big 12 says it is, action would have been taken.
Head coach Mack Brown could still take matters into his own hands and suspend Davis, but you can't realistically expect him to do that—not with the most critical game against Oklahoma of his career coming up. But that responsibility can and should be place on the conference commissioner.
No one here at the Big 12 blog is saying Davis is a dirty player, but his quotes Monday morning confirm that Davis believes what he did was justified.
Davis on reaction to hit: "It was crazy. I think people blew it out of proportion and took it too far. It really wasn't that bad."— Mike Finger (@mikefinger) October 7, 2013
Mike Davis: "If we have another run-pass situation, I'd do the same thing. If the DB's loafing, he deserves to get cut."— Mike Finger (@mikefinger) October 7, 2013
Officials acknowledged Davis did something unnecessary related to the game. If they can acknowledge that, they, and the Big 12, should also acknowledge that it was targeting and deserves appropriate punishment.
Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. All quotes and information obtained firsthand unless cited otherwise. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenKercheval.