Blog Entry

USC S T.J. McDonald suspended half-game for hit

Posted on: November 1, 2011 12:22 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2011 12:23 pm
 
Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The USC Trojans and Pac-12 officials have suddenly gotten very well acquainted in the days since the team's triple-overtime loss to Stanford.

We've already told you that Lane Kiffin got tagged with a $10,000 fine and a reprimand for saying conference officials had "lied" to him at game's end, but he wasn't the only Trojan target from Larry Scott's office Monday: safety T.J. McDonald was also hit with a half-game suspension for a late hit against "defenseless" Cardinal receiver Chris Owusu.

McDonald will miss the first and second quarters of the Trojans' game this Friday at struggling Colorado. Scott issued a statementwith the following explanation:
“While Mr. McDonald was appropriately penalized on the field, I have deemed it necessary to add a a half-game suspension ... This process was part of our weekly review of all targeting and unnecessary roughness hits.”

“Mr. McDonald had been previously warned about illegal hits above the shoulders on defenseless opponents. In order to protect our student-athletes, it is imperative that we enforce these penalties for the safety of the game."
Kiffin, naturally, disagreed:
"He made a bang-bang play and his intent was not to hurt the receiver or launch his body at the receiver or lead with his helmet. If you watch the hit in real time, we feel it is impossible to competitively play that play any differently.

"T.J. is a tremendous player and leader for our team, and he has our full support.  I know he felt badly about being penalized and the impact it had in the game."
For his part, McDonald said he "accept(s) my penalty" and apologized to both Stanford and his own team. But before you dismiss Kiffin's complaint as more generalized whining about the officials ... consider that he might actually be right in this case. Here's the play in question:



It's a rough hit, and despite the gripes from Trojan fans, it's not fair to ask the officials to keep their flags in their pockets after seeing something that violent in real-time. But an after-the-fact suspension? That we'll disagree with, since:

1. McDonald is clearly leading with his shoulder rather than his helmet, which is even turned away from the impact rather than taking McDonald into it

2. McDonald makes contact with Owusu's head not because that's where he's aiming, but because Owusu sinks towards his knees in an effort to catch the ball; if he had stayed upright, McDonald likely would have hit him in the chest

3. While it's easy to tell that the ball has gotten away from Owusu on the replay, we have serious doubts McDonald had any chance of pulling up in the split-second between the ball's arrival and its bouncing away (heck, even Owusu is still futilely trying to make the catch as McDonald arrives).

The bottom line: we don't know, really, what Scott wants McDonald to do. If Owusu had been able to catch the ball, McDonald's hit might have dislodged the ball and been credited as a great play ... but because Owusu can't quite come up with it and lowers his head into McDonald's hit, now it's suspension-worthy?

Frankly, it seems the reason McDonald has been suspended isn't the hit as much as it is that he's T.J. McDonald ... who, as Scott accurately points out, has had a healthy share of personal foul penalties already this season. And if McDonald had committed another cut-and-dry late hit, the worthy aim of protecting the players who play college football would indeed require a suspension.

But this wasn't cut-and-dry. This wasn't that kind of hit. And as much as we applaud Scott's efforts to make the Pac-12's defenders think twice about going headhunting, this wasn't the right place or the right play to make that stand.
Comments

Since: Apr 6, 2010
Posted on: November 5, 2011 8:42 pm
 

USC S T.J. McDonald suspended half-game for hit

You are one dumb sob



Since: Apr 19, 2009
Posted on: November 2, 2011 11:23 am
 

USC S T.J. McDonald suspended half-game for hit

That was hardly the worst officials call of the game. There were another PI non-call against a USC receiver in the endzone that was not called and the Headlinemen standing 5 feet from it and lkooking right at it.



Since: Apr 6, 2011
Posted on: November 1, 2011 5:30 pm
 

USC S T.J. McDonald suspended half-game for hit

This was the worst call I have seen in a while.  It is cut and dry.  He clearly started his hit before the receiver headed toward the grown.  He was going to hit him in the chest.  Football is getting so PC that eventually there will not be a need for a defense.  Just let 11 guys line up with a ball and score in one play. 

A flag should have not been thrown here.  This is case that instant replay should be used to review a flag.  The refs really blew this one.  I really do not like USC or Kiffen but this call cost them the game.  B*U*L*L*S*H*!*T call. 




Since: Jul 24, 2011
Posted on: November 1, 2011 4:04 pm
 

USC S T.J. McDonald suspended half-game for hit

Broncos - Perhaps you missed this line:

"It's a rough hit, and despite the gripes from Trojan fans, it's not fair to ask the officials to keep their flags in their pockets after seeing something that violent in real-time."

I'm not sure how you get that the author isn't saying that the flags were warranted in real-time.



Since: Mar 20, 2007
Posted on: November 1, 2011 3:33 pm
 

USC S T.J. McDonald suspended half-game for hit

The Pac-12 is an absolute joke, and has lost all credibility.  This kid didn't leave his feet, he led with his shoulder pads (text book) and the hit was anything but late.  The receiver was bobbling the ball, and this kid makes an incredibly violent hit sure, but it should have been 100% legal.  Not only is the half game suspension a load of crap, so to was the penalty that essentially saved the game for Stanford.  It is amazing the hoops this "conference" will jump through to protect which team happens to be on top.  I for one am boycotting watching any more Pac-12 games. Absurd.  Now I see why this "conference" fighst tooth and nail against a play-off, they have no idea what football is or should be.  TRuly disgusting.

Take heed potential recruits, this is the Pac-12.  If you like football, fairness, and competition go elsewhere to play football, because I;'m not sure what game they are playing in the Pac-12. 



Since: Oct 2, 2006
Posted on: November 1, 2011 3:21 pm
 

USC S T.J. McDonald suspended half-game for hit

gentlemenplease:  "So the level of violance in a hit, regardless of whether it's within the rules or not, should be the measure for referees throwing critical personal foul flags?"  Read the article again.  It has NOTHING to do with whether the flag was warranted, but addresses the suspension.  And the author wasn't arguing that the hit was legal (though he kind of / sort of did in a roundabout way), he was arguing that the suspension was unwarranted.



Since: Mar 6, 2009
Posted on: November 1, 2011 3:11 pm
 

USC S T.J. McDonald suspended half-game for hit

Bull**** call.  No way should this guy be suspended. 



Since: Oct 31, 2011
Posted on: November 1, 2011 1:43 pm
 

USC S T.J. McDonald suspended half-game for hit

good point.. a hit can be violent even if you follow all the rules which is what this looks like, so it hard to buy scott's explanation. seems unfair to this player who followed the rules and it sounds like he's a good kid.  this to me does not seem like one of the "dirty" plays we've seen in recent weeks.. not even close.



Since: Jul 24, 2011
Posted on: November 1, 2011 12:36 pm
 

USC S T.J. McDonald suspended half-game for hit

So the level of violance in a hit, regardless of whether it's within the rules or not, should be the measure for referees throwing critical personal foul flags? If you're going to make the argument that the hit was legal, which I believe you accurately did, then the flag itself is unwarranted.
These referees are paid to objectively and accurately intrepret and execute the rules of the game. The multiple mistakes made in the 4th quarter should require, from the Pac 12, a public reprimand and suspension. Especially in light of the public reprimand last year when a single call went FOR USC against Virginia.
Further, why in the world hasn't Vontaze Burfict been suspended. Enough said.


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