After last week’s Tennessee at Alabama game, Tennessee fans felt gypped that a re-kick didn’t happen after Alabama’s Terrence Cody ripped off his helmet in celebration of blocking the potential game-winning field goal. Even though the replay clearly showed that the ball had not yet been recovered. Thus, the penalty occurred during the play while the ball was live.
The SEC released a statement that the foul was a dead ball foul and would not have resulted in a replay of the down. This further angered Tennessee fans who thought that the officials got it wrong.
I’ll admit I was confused by this. I wasn’t rooting for Tennessee to have another chance, but I did want to make sure the game had been won fairly. If a call had been missed, this could taint any further success that the Crimson Tide might have this season. A National Championship or lack thereof could result in a slew of haters suggesting that Alabama didn’t deserve to win one. I skimmed over the entire rule book and read several portions which confused me even further. Then I found Rule 9 which covers unsportsmanlike conduct. This rule specifically addresses a player removing his helmet.
When a player removes his helmet before he is in the team area, it is considered unsportsmanlike conduct. If the foul is committed while the ball is alive, it is treated as a dead-ball foul. The dead-ball foul would be enforced on the next play. But since time had expired (meaning the game was over), the penalty was not enforced.
When Lane Kiffin complained that the officials should have enforced a penalty and given his team a replay of the down, it was because he did not know the rules of the game. During the off-season, Kiffin accused Urban Meyer of cheating by attempting to contact a recruit during a visit to Tennessee’s campus. While it got Tennessee fans fired up, it proved to the rest of us that Lane Kiffin doesn’t know the rules.
I didn’t know the ins and outs of the rule regarding removal of a player’s helmet, but I’m not being paid more than two million dollars per year to know such things.