Friday, June 21, 2013

Michigan Friday: Applauds the PAC 12's New Policy

With Michigan's camp wrapped up now, there really isn't much to report.  I expect many of the coaches will be taking some time off before Fall Camp starts in about a month. 

So today, I hit a regular topic that I haven't discussed for awhile, concussions.  The PAC 12 will be instituting a new policy in limiting contact in practice.   New research is now showing that not only concussions can cause brain damage but the consistent contact in games and practice can also cause brain damage.

The Big Ten is also serious about concussions, here is a quote from Commissioner Jim Delany: "I know the NFL is down to one day a week [of hitting in practice], and most colleges are down to two," Delany said. "Not by regulation, just by practice. I see where the Pac-12 has suggested two days a week. I think that's actually pretty standard, that not many people are doing more than two. If they are, it's only a few. 

The Big Ten is also in a joint research venture with the Ivy League schools to continue to research concussion and brain trauma. 

Two Big Ten coaches would like to understand the policy a little better:

Northwestern's Fitzgerald:  "Just define for me what contact means, and I can put together a plan," Fitzgerald told "But I still haven't heard what that means yet. If you put an O-lineman and a D-lineman together with helmets only, do you not think they'll bang into each other? Otherwise, we're playing a different sport.

"I'm just a little worried that the reaction is to take contact away, instead of to use contact constructively to educate and teach guys the healthy and safe way to play the game."

Iowa's Ferentz:  "My experience both in professional football and college football is that most coaches are pretty cognizant and aware and in tune of where their team is health-wise, fatigue-wise, those types of things," he said. "I would imagine a lot of coaches try to be very, very careful and very smart about how they practice. Now we're at 85 scholarships. It's different than the '80s when rosters were bigger, you had more players. When you lose players to injury, it's not good for anybody, so it's a fine line. I would imagine every coach worries about that and spends a lot of time thinking about that, how do we practice intelligently."

I understand how the coaches feel, they need to prepare their teams to win and don't want to be "handcuffed" on rules on when players can and can't have contact.   These coaches are "old school" for the most part and believe they know what's best to protect their players.

The issue how I see it is, they really don't understand how to protect their kids brain and there really isn't a ton of research to show us how to avoid causing these kids issues later in life.   So yes, I'm a 100% in favor of limiting contact in practice to a couple times a week max.    They say playing a college or NFL football game is like being in a car crash every weekend.   These players don't need to crash 3 or 4 more times a week in practice.  

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