by Richard Okelberry, November 26th, 2010 - Up until the actual beginning of the Texas vs. Texas A&M game on Thanksgiving, I honestly was not sure if Tony Jerod-Eddie would play in the game following his “incident.” If you are one of the few in the country, like A&M coach Sherman, that have not gotten a good look at the YouTube video, the “incident” refers to a moment in last weeks game where Jerod-Eddie purposely tried to injure Nebraska player Ben Cotton following a recovered fumble. A few days later, A&M Coach Sherman then absolved Jerod-Eddie of all wrong doing by telling the press that “The results and the consequences of that are between me and that player. It’s been addressed.” Coach Sherman also lay to rest any fears that Jerod-Eddie would face a suspension for the upcoming Texas game.
The reason that I had been holding my breath waiting to see if Jerod-Eddie would actually play in the Thanksgiving match-up with Texas is because it was not Coach Sherman’s decision to make regarding whether Jerod-Eddie played or not; it was up to the Big-12 Commissioner. You see, if Jerod-Eddie had actually played (which he did), then it meant that A&M likely violated both NCAA and Big 12 rules and might now be at risk of sanctions against the entire program.
Besides having a bunch of statements about fair play and sportsmanship, the Big 12 Charter clearly states, “The Commissioner shall have the responsibility for and is authorized to provide rulings and interpretations of the Rules (1.7.7).” Section 7.2 of the Big 12 Rules then goes on to explain that while member institutions may conduct their own investigations into NCAA violations, they are required to file a report with both the NCAA and the Big 12 Commissioner for any “Potential Major Violations.” In dealing with such violations section 12 of the Big 12 Rules states that Physical Abusive Acts committed against an opponent’s team member (12.3.1) “REQUIRE actions by the Big 12 commissioner (12.3).”
Finally, because member institutions and the Big 12 itself must comply with NCAA rules as part of the Big 12 Charter, Rule 9 Section 6 of the NCAA rules concerning Flagrant Personal Fouls comes into play. This section clearly states that for flagrant “Fouls Not Called” during the game the conference may impose sanctions after a subsequent review of the game. It is because of this rule that Nebraska player Eric Martin was suspended for one game after leading with his helmet in a hit against Andrew Hudson in the OSU game. Even though no flag was thrown immediately following the hit, a later review of the play by the Big 12 led to his suspension.
So why did Tony Jerod-Eddie not receive a similar suspension after a video review of what coach Sherman tried to dismiss as “extracurricular activities” shows an obvious Flagrant Foul against Ben Cotton of Nebraska? Within the video it can be clearly seen that Tony Jerod-Eddie was digging his fingers in between the muscles in Cotton’s inner thigh in an attempt to damage Cotton’s vital sciatic nerve?
While the inner workings of the Big 12 can often be a mystery and are regularly hidden from public view, we certainly can speculate about what did or didn’t happen.
Because Coach Sherman exonerated Jerod-Eddie first thing on Monday following the Saturday incident, there simply would not have been enough time for the required reports to be filed with the Big 12 and the NCAA and for the Big 12 Commissioner to have made an official ruling after reviewing the video. As such, it is most likely A&M simply failed to adhere to Big 12 and NCAA regulations by properly reporting this incident to the Commissioner and the NCAA for review. The A&M administration certainly cannot claim that they were unaware of the issue because a specific complaint on the event was registered with their Athletic Compliance Office the following morning. In addition, an email was sent containing a video of the incident by me to A&M’s President. Dr. R. Bowen Loftin when requesting a statement.
Also, considering the public outcry over this event coupled with the fact that the incident has been covered extensively throughout sports media including ESPN, it is very unlikely the Big 12 Commissioner, Dan Beebe wasn’t already aware of the incident and simply refused to impose the required suspension under Big 12 Rule 12.1.
By allowing Tony Jerod-Eddie to play in the Texas game and for not reporting the incident to the Big 12/NCAA, Texas A&M could face some serious penalties under rule 7.4; including having their win against Texas vacated. Also, if the NCAA makes A&M ineligible for a post season bowl game as a result of A&M’s refusal to enforce a major NCAA regulation, A&M would also lose 50% of its share in revenue from conference championship events.
Now for those of you that believe this to be nothing more than an isolated event that is being blown out of proportion, consider that this is the second time this year that a Flagrant Foul against a Nebraska player was caught on video and not addressed by the Big 12 Commissioner. During the contest against Iowa State, A.J. Klein was seen on video trying to twist off the head of Nebraska player Rex Burkhead at the end of the play.
In both the A&M and Iowa State incidences, the same officiating crew was standing in plain site of the event and instead of penalizing the culprits, penalized Nebraska for defending themselves. Also, neither offending player was suspended by the Big 12 or by their teams as required by NCAA regulations.
This failure to enforce Big 12 rules and NCAA regulations along with a huge disparity in the number of penalties assessed against Nebraska (32 times for 293 yards) versus their opponents (only 9 times for 103 yards) by this one particular Big 12 officiating crew has understandably fanned the flames of conspiracy among many Nebraska fans. Many have come to believe that we are no longer watching fair contests on the field where the rules are equally applied to all sides, but instead are watching something similar to professional wrestling where it may appear exciting but everyone knows the “Fix” is in.
From where I am sitting, it sure feels like the Big 12 Commissioner will do anything, including violating the very rules that govern the Big 12, to keep Nebraska from leaving the conference with that Big 12 trophy! Now for those NU fans that are seeing red over this and are demanding that Nebraska do something about this, consider that administrators, coaches and players are all prohibited under sections 12.3.2 and 12.3.3 from publicly criticizing the officiating or other member institutions.
At this point the only recourse for Nebraska fans would be to have Chancellor Perlman file an official complaint with the Big 12. If anyone thinks that Nebraska will do that after suffering public embarrassment in the national media following Pelini’s rants during the A&M game, think again. Doing so would only make it appear that Nebraska is still ranting on the sideline.
Of course the fans can see what is happening and that will have to be enough for now. For years to come, NU fans everywhere will likely feel a bit of stomach acid rise up in their throats in honorary salute of Commissioner Dan Beebe, every time they are reminded that Nebraska once played in the Big 12 Conference.
(Read more on this topic: UPDATE:Big 12 Commissioner Clears Jerod-Eddie. )
For those who want to see how the penalty dicrepancy breaks down, read: The Big XII’s Anti-Nebraska Conspiracy
- Five of seven opponents are penalized FEWER TIMES when playing against Nebraska.
- Six of seven opponents are penalized for LESS total yardage when playing Nebraska.
- Six of seven opponents have a Penalty Score that is DRAGGED DOWN when including the Nebraska game.