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College Football Gets Tough on Head Hits

College football officials are cracking down on flagrant fouls, particularly helmet-to-helmet contact, as a result of a new NCAA rule that mandates a postgame video review by conference officials after a dangerous foul is committed.

"The message is clear that we don't want these vicious hits to the head that can lead to serious injury," said Dave Parry, NCAA coordinator of officials.

Ohio State safety Kurt Coleman was suspended by the Big Ten on Monday for a game after a helmet-to-helmet hit against Illinois, prompting a sharp reply from Ohio State. In a joint statement, athletics director Gene Smith and coach Jim Tressel said the league acted with "poor judgment."

The Sun Belt also suspended a player this month as a result of Rule 9-6. Helmet-to-helmet hits have been a point of emphasis for several years, now even more so. The Pacific-10 keeps a log of players flagged for fouls involving helmet-to-helmet contact. "We think it will be helpful to know in determining potential disciplinary action if a player has been called for this infraction previously," Pac-10 spokesman Jim Muldoon said.

The rule also states if a personal foul is not called, the conference may impose sanctions after a league review.

After Coleman, a team captain, hit Illinois backup quarterback Eddie McGee on the final drive of the Buckeyes' 30-0 win, a penalty was called but Coleman was not ejected. "We concur that Kurt's hit was late and a result of poor judgment; he was thus penalized and removed from the game by his coaches," Smith and Tressel said. "The final 'poor judgment' is in levying a one-game suspension."

The most replayed hit of the weekend was the sack that forced Florida's Tim Tebow to leave the Kentucky game with a concussion. Southeastern Conference coordinator of officials Rogers Redding ruled it a legal tackle not needing formal review, according to SEC spokesman Charles Bloom. Parry agreed after seeing TV replays.

Contributing: Jack Carey, USA TODAY.

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