Posted by Adam Jacobi
Oregon State got a boost of good news today when senior James Rodgers -- brother of Jacquizz Rodgers , of course -- was given an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA. Rodgers was injured after making a (negated) touchdown catch past Arizona safety Adam Hall in the first half of the OSU-Arizona game; Rodgers' knee buckled as Hall tackled him in the end zone, tearing Rodgers' ACL.
Technically, Rodgers' season-ending injury came during the fifth game of the year, but he had missed the prior game after suffering a concussion on a hit by Boise State safety Will Venables (the helmet-to-helmet hit by Venables would result in a two-quarter suspension), so Rodgers really only played in four of the season's 12 games. That's small enough to meet the NCAA's requirement of 30% games played (yes, there's rounding involved) to grant a medical hardship waiver.
But while Venables' hit was obviously dirty and punished as such, the play that resulted in Rodgers' blown knee would probably be less defensible if it weren't so common. On the fateful play, Rodgers had clearly scored the touchdown and taken several steps in the end zone with Hall on him when Hall finished the tackle, twisting Rodgers' knee past the ACL's tolerance. If that play happens out of bounds, Hall gets flagged and perhaps ejected for unnecessary roughness. And yet, the ball is dead in the end zone after the officials signal a touchdown too, and Hall wasn't trying for a last-gasp strip. It's just common practice to go ahead and get the ball-carrier down in the unlikely event that the ball comes out. Not only is the practice cheap, it's demonstrably dangerous, and with replay being such a part of college football, it wouldn't even work anyway. You're really going to strip a guy 5 steps into the end zone and then expect the ref and replay booth to all think it's a legitimate play? Come on.
Again, it's still technically legal, mainly because it's so widespread, but the fact that someone who has just scored a touchdown can get whacked without any repercussions from the officials seems inconsistent with the rest of the protections afforded to players everywhere else on the field.
At any rate, this is a welcome change of circumstance for Rodgers, who came into the 2010 season as a preseason All-American only to fall off his school-record pace from 2009 even before the injuries. If he can put together a solid senior season with his brother in the backfield, cannon-armed junior Ryan Katz returning as the starting quarterback, and a bevy of experienced receivers coming back, the lousy 2010 campaign will become little more than a distant memory.