Category Archives: Eric Martin suspension

Officiating Debacle? No, Pelini’s Nebraska Needs Discipline

BY TODD NEELEY

Was it really a conspiracy?

Well, if you believe officials had it out for Nebraska Saturday night at Texas A&M, there is plenty of evidence to support that.

NU was penalized 16 times for 145 yards. A&M, just two penalties for 10 yards, propelling the Aggies to a 9-6 win.

Is A&M really this disciplined? Is Nebraska really THIS self-destructive? I’d say no and yes.

The first thing that jumps out about this game is that it clearly wasn’t evenly called by officials. In fact, there were times when the zebras were blatantly targeting the Huskers.

Heck, for that matter officials haven’t been even-handed with Nebraska all season long. NU has been penalized 86 times for 797 yards, while the opponents have been flagged far less — 48 times for 420 yards.

Cases in point: Late in the game Nebraska safety Courtney Osborne was called for a personal foul for a hit on A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill, on what was a crucial third down play that saw the Nebraska defense hold. Osborne clearly made a clean hit that wasn’t even late — shoulders squared, head up, square in the chest as Tannehill released the ball.

Second, earlier in the game Nebraska linebacker Eric Martin was called for two personal-foul penalties on special teams.

OK, may be just a coincidence here, but Martin was suspended earlier this season for a supposed helmet-to-helmet hit against Oklahoma State. And if you remember, Osborne drilled Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert on what was a perfectly legal hit. Following that game Tiger Head Coach Gary Pinkel said that maybe conference officials should review the Osborne hit — which it never did.

Were officials in College Station specially targeting Osborne and Martin? We’ll never know.

The 2010 season has been a dramatic sway against Nebraska from officials, no doubt.

Yet it would seem to be over-simplistic to say officials are out to get NU because of the move to the Big Ten, or for any other reason.

I think it’s more likely that Nebraska really is its own worst enemy, especially since Bo Pelini has taken over the reigns. Let’s be honest, Pelini has brought the return of physical play by Nebraska on both sides of the ball — balls to the wall, every play for four quarters.

Unfortunately, this team has taken on the personality of its coach in a bad way.

Pelini was all over the officials, in fact looking downright out of control at times. There were more F-bombs dropped by Pelini in one game than maybe his entire career at Nebraska, combined. Pelini spent most of the game jawing at officials, in fact drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty late in the game.

Did officials at A&M focus squarely on Nebraska? Sure looks that way, and in fact there are games like this all the time when one side gets called for more than its share of penalties. Conspiracy? Probably not.

While Pelini has brought a lot back to this program, his players are undisciplined and commit their share of stupid mistakes.

This has been the case since day one.

Football has to be played with focused anger, but Pelini’s Nebraska has been borderline dumb.

Statistics don’t lie.

Before Pelini’s arrival in 2008 there was little penalty disparity between Nebraska and its opponents.

From 2000 to 2007, Nebraska opponents averaged 83 penalties for 647 yards per season, compared to 79 penalties for 656 yards for NU.

Since 2000 Nebraska has been flagged for more penalties than its opponents on what will be six seasons including 2010 — three of those by Pelini-coached teams. In 2008 and 2009 Nebraska piled up more than 800 yards in penalties, the two highest totals since 2000. Unless NU doesn’t commit a single penalty the rest of the way in 2010, the Huskers will again eclipse 800 yards.

That reflects a serious lack of discipline more than bad officials.

Following the loss Saturday Pelini again indicated that officials were horrible, without actually saying it. He was ticked and actually tracked down one of the officials for a little chat following the game.

The Omaha World Herald declared this morning that the 12th man at Texas A&M in this game was the officials, http://dld.bz/72vD. Don’t just cater to the readers here, let’s be honest.

Enough already.

Pelini has to let off the officials. It’s no wonder Nebraska couldn’t buy a break all night — the coach was in a fit of rage all game long. If the coach is poised and cool under pressure his team will respond that way. Unfortunately Pelini wasted a great defensive performance by the Blackshirts with his sideline antics.

You gotta love the football intelligence Pelini brings to the game, but now it’s time to look in the mirror.

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Eric Martin Suspension Flagrant Stupidity

BY TODD NEELEY

The Big 12 Conference is flat out wrong.

If Eric Martin’s jarring block on a Niles Paul kickoff return last weekend is worthy of suspension, then what about personal foul penalties that are ACTUALLY CALLED in a game?

Martin wasn’t penalized for the hit on Andrew Hudson, but Big Brother Big 12 makes this look like it is trying to find another way to kick Nebraska before it heads out the conference front door.

Conspiracy? No way, just good old fashion Nebraska hate bubbling to the surface — flagrant stupidity.

Conference officials announced late Wednesday that they have suspended Martin for Saturday’s game against Missouri, following a big hit on Oklahoma State’s Hudson on a 100-yard kickoff return by Paul last Saturday in Stillwater, Okla., http://dld.bz/3PTE.

“Mr. Martin committed a flagrant act of targeting an opponent with the crown of his helmet in violation of NCAA Football Rules,” Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said in a news release. “This dangerous hit is one that we in the football community are trying to remove from the game.”

In accordance with NCAA Football Rule 9-6-3, “if subsequent review of a game by a conference reveals plays involving flagrant personal fouls that game officials did not call, the conference may impose sanctions prior to the next scheduled game.”

Targeting an opponent?

So, even without interviewing Martin himself the Big 12 decides he intended to hurt Hudson on that block. Much has been made about Martin supposedly celebrating right after the hit.

So what? Football is no longer an emotional, physical game? Guess not.

Last time I checked that’s what this game is all about. Martin’s reaction says nothing about what he intended to do.

Did he intend to blow up Hudson to keep him away from Paul? Dang right he did.

But the Big 12 is overreaching on this one.

Officials didn’t penalize Martin for the hit and the replay shows he had his head up and delivered a solid, and certainly not dirty, block.

In other words, he did what coaches have taught him to do.

Heck, Hudson’s head didn’t even snap backward on the hit, that’s why it didn’t draw a flag.

Where’s the consistency here?

Later in the game Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez took an obvious helmet-to-helmet shot, and the defender was flagged for a late hit after Martinez delivered a pass.

Where’s the suspension for that hit, Big 12?

Hey, while we’re at it. Remember that all-time great hit, ‘Eric Crouch Stars in the Exorcist,’ http://dld.bz/3PTk. Heck, no flag on this one and no suspension from big brother at the Big 12 either.

This situation begs for a review of Big 12 rules and how games are officiated.

Should the conference protect student athletes from physical harm? Absolutely.

Should a player who throws a block or delivers a jarring tackle with the intention of physically harming another player be subject to suspension? That’s debateable.

This isn’t an easy line to draw. Sure, there’s intention on every block and tackle. Players want to take out opponents.

Football is about hitting, not about players considering the legal consequences and how the conference might react before making a play.

But if the conference is going to issue a suspension it needs to be consistent. If Eric Martin sits this week, then the OSU player that clearly intended to hurt Martinez should be suspended. This is especially the case considering that officials called roughing the passer on the play.

In this situation the rules protect no one. Martinez continues to be a sitting duck because he is a dangerous runner. If players can be suspended as a result of non-penalty plays, then those flagged for obvious personal foul penalties should sit.

Afterall, isn’t the intention to protect players? Well, hard to tell in this situation.

It’s easy to point to Nebraska’s exit from the Big 12 as a reason for the microscope placed on the Huskers last week.

Even if that’s not the case, this situation begs the question — Exactly what is the Big 12’s intention here?