Oklahoma football: monitoring wayward helmets
The new helmet rule in college football is sure to have some effect on games. It’s now a 15-yard penalty against any team whose player loses his helmet and continues in the flow of the game. In other words, lose your helmet, remove yourself from the action.
The rule is in response to two factors: 1) the increasing fear of concussions; and 2) the propensity for players to lose their helmets these days. A generation ago, it was rare to see a helmet fly off. Now, it’s common.
Bob Stoops said Monday his staff has been prepping for the new rule, “really since the rule came out. Spring, summer, anyone whose helmet came off in practice, we made a note of it. Managers were checking it. How, why, figure out if something’s wrong with it. Been very diligent.”
Big 12 director of officials Walt Anderson told me during the summer that part of the problem is players just don’t want to buckle all the buckles, that they prefer the comfort of a loose helmet.
But Stoops said helmets are looser now anyway, compared to when he played. More air is in the helmet now. “I wonder if the design’s the problem,” Stoops said. “It isn’t changing.”
Back in the day, Stoops said, players had to work to get their helmet on and off. Really stretch out the helmet. Now they slide it off and on like a flip-flop.
“They don’t make it that way anymore,” Stoops said. “When I played, you couldn’t get ‘em off. Used to have a buddy help you.”
And Stoops stretched his neck and showed the contortions once needed.
Not anymore. So the NCAA wants the helmets to stay on. And if a ballcarrier’s helmet comes off, the play is blown dead immediately.
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