Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The biggest story in the NFL over the past couple of weeks -- and as many would argue as the health risks become clearer and clearer, the league's biggest story for the coming decade -- has been the sudden rash of vicious helmet-to-helmet hits and Roger Goodell 's subsequent crackdown on the perpetrators via suspension.
As connected at the hip as major college football and the NFL have been for years, it's no wonder that it's only taken a matter of days for the anti-helmet-to-helmet crusade to trickle down to the college ranks. First conference up is the SEC , and the first (Second, rather; see below--ed. ) player suspended is ... drumroll please ... courtesy of the Clarion-Ledger 's Brandon Marcello ...
Mississippi State 's Chris Hughes ! It's not exactly a blow to the Bulldogs' chances against Kentucky this weekend (Hughes is a freshman backup who ranks 26th on State's roster in tackles this season) but that the SEC stepped in this quickly, and following a game where State's opponent came from outside the conference, shows that the league is making some level of commitment to cleaning up any wayward headhunting.
Of course, it's also easy to make that commitment in the wake of the NFL's high-profile decisions, and even easier to pick out an obscure backup linebacker at Mississippi State for punishment. When the SEC suspends one if its all-conference performers for a game with a divisonal title on the line, that's when we'll know their statement on player safety is serious.
UPDATE: Hughes is actually the second player suspended by the SEC in the past four days; South Carolina 's Rodney Paulk missed the first half of the Gamecocks' win over Vanderbilt after a last-minute decision from the league office.