Stanford’s David Shaw wants clarification on helmet-to-helmet rule

Stanford Cardinal wide receiver Francis Owusu has been ruled out for Friday’s game against the Washington Cougars after failing the concussion protocol.

Stanford coach David Shaw sent footage of the hit applied by UCLA’s Tahaan Goodman which caused Owusu’s concussion to the Pac-12 for review. Goodman was not penalized on the hit. The rule, which has been criticized as being prone to misinterpretation, states that only hitting with the crown of your helmet is a penalty. Coach Shaw is of the inclination that semantics have no place in the world of player safety.

Shaw was quoted as follows:

“To me, the letter of the law is immaterial. If you have contact on one helmet to another helmet, that should be a penalty. We should go back and reword our rulings, go back and reteach our officials and our replay officials. We’re trying to take care of these young men. Plays like this should be penalized so that they stop happening. If we don’t penalize them, they will continue to happen”.

“There is language (in the rulebook) that obviously needs to be amended, preferably sooner than later. And I think you’ll get relatively unanimous support for such language … The defense for that not being a penalty – I can’t imagine what (else) it really could be, rationally.”

With head injuries having reached a feverish concern in football, this kind of strong wording from coach Shaw is sure to get the play a look. It will be interesting to see how the NCAA and the PAC-12 respond.

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