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Sunday, April 20, 2014

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Column: NCAA rules clearly spell out Miller suspension

Derek Kim

Derek Kim

Derek Kim is a guest writer for The State News. He can be reached at kimderek@msu.edu.

The silhouette of the bird was all Braxton Miller needed.

Ohio State running back Dontre Wilson and offensive lineman Marcus Hall were ejected for their participation in a near bench-clearing scuffle against University of Michigan last Saturday.

The Big Ten spent the past three days reviewing film and officials’ reports of the incident. On Monday, the conference announced that no further disciplinary action would be handed down to those involved. The league and head coach Urban Meyer publicly rebuked Hall, but no additional punishment was issued.

Hall’s obscene gesture might have stolen the show, however, don’t let those fluttering wings distract you.

Take a closer look at the video replay of the melee, and keep your eyes on No. 5.

Did you see it?

Around :22, Braxton Miller scrambles from his sideline and joins in on the fun, twisting U-M defensive back Dymonte Thomas’ helmet in an attempt to yank him to the ground.

Miller walked away from the scene of the crime unscathed. Michigan offensive lineman Taylor Lewan could learn a thing or two from Hall, the OSU right guard.

While it is notable that many other OSU players ran onto the field besides Miller, few candidly joined the fiasco with the manner he did.

The Buckeye quarterback was among the first to reach the scrum, and his hand went right for a Wolverine facemask.

The 2013-14 NCAA Football Rules and Interpretations manual Rule 9, Section 5, Article 1C reads as follows: “During either half, coaches or substitutes shall not leave their team area to participate in a fight.”

Penalties include 15 yards from the succeeding spot, an automatic first down if not in conflict with other rules, and disqualification for the remainder of the game and the first half of the next game.

The last time I checked, No. 5 wasn’t on Ohio State’s kickoff return.

According to the preceding texts of Section 5 of the manual, the league was correct in its handling of Wilson and Hall. But the fine print clearly reveals Miller’s actions as suspendable for the forthcoming Big Ten Championship game.

Meyer’s lack of disciplinary action is not surprising to antagonists familiar with his track record. The third-year head coach committed several recruiting violations in his inaugural season at the Buckeye helm, during a period when Columbus already was under NCAA sanctions from the Jim Tressel era. More than 30 of his players were arrested during his tenure at the University of Florida, including then-wide receiver Percy Harvin, who reportedly threw his positions coach to the ground during a practice. And to resurrect the Aaron Hernandez debacle that plagued our televisions this summer: Is it at all possible that the investigations in Foxborough were a result of passivity in Gainesville?

Most notably, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany sure doesn’t seem concerned about Miller’s actions. Instead, Delany passively provided one of the Big Ten’s most profitable brands a smoother road to a national title. Not to mention that fans are not simply dismissing reports of the commissioner’s passivity regarding OSU’s 2011 improper benefit sanctions.

MSU does not boast the cash-breeding valor of Ohio State or Michigan, but that’s no excuse for a lack of integrity on the commissioner’s part. Is money more important than manner? Miller’s helmet-jabbing was a clear violation of NCAA rules. Such inaction contradicts what the Big Ten boasts with its mantra: “honoring legends, building leaders.” It seems that in regards to BCS championship recognition, the commissioner would rather “chase it” than enforce principle.

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