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Tigers & Aggies: Let's work together to end the horse collar debate

An official SEC ruling on the horse collar is necessary for avoiding a decade of inane discourse.

Thomas B. Shea

I truly enjoyed the Auburn fans last week. Both the internet banter leading up to the game and the fans that traveled to College Station were fantastic. I respect any fan base that can understand where they are as a team, and can enjoy self-deprecating humor. Ole Miss fans are severely deficient in both of these areas. Out of all the "dual mascot identity crisis" jokes we cracked, you all legitimately enjoyed our photoshops. Your fans also got incredibly loud in Kyle, which is a damned impressive sight that doesn't happen very often.

Auburn fans are some of my favorite in the SEC so far, and I don't wan't this penalty ruining our ability to have quality banter for the next 5 years.

Let me clarify my position on the horse collar incident. I don't care whether or not the tackle on Johnny Manziel at the end of the Auburn game was or was not a horse collar. I really don't. Whether or not it was shouldn't take away from the tremendous effort Auburn put out on the field.

Manziel horsecollar

The only thing I want is an official statement on it from the SEC Officiating offices. We just came to the conference and a call like this, in a year where expectations were set so high, with Battered Aggie Syndrome creeping over every shoulder again, has all of the ingredients necessary to fuel idiots for years to come.

We can't be given a win retroactively, it won't make anyone feel better knowing if it was or wasn't, and nothing changes the fact that we gave up 45 points at home. What having an actual answer from the SEC office will do is help everyone avoid conversations that devolve into another discussion about the damn horse collar.

It won't be the smart fans, it'll be the dumb ones. It'll be the Arkansas fans complaining about getting jobbed in 2010, or pretty much anyone in 2010 claiming you were under the protection of the SEC.

Now more than a few Auburn fans will invariably make there way here and put something in the comments regarding missed holding calls and Aggie tears. Let's just go ahead and be honest with each other about a few things before that happens:

Whether or not Auburn scored 45 up to that moment is irrelevant.

Sports often comes down to one big moment. It's one of the reasons we're infatuated with them. A caught pass, a dropped ball, a flag on the field or in a pocket. No-calls often happen to be just one big moment in a game that was filled with them, and the ones at the end of the game are heavily scrutinized because of the "what-ifs."

The score could have been 7 to 3 with tremendous defensive efforts from both sides, and the impact of the call would have been the same.

No one cares about holding.

Seriously, no one cares about this. What's the point? Whether or not the Manziel play was a horse collar is mutually exclusive from whether or not Texas A&M offensive lineman and wide receivers were holding. Please don't go all Karma Jen Bielema on it.

Just because my neighbor is stealing my newspaper it doesn't mean I can sleep with his wife.

The "classless" fan base is always the one that loses.

Auburn, Texas A&M, and every other fan base has more than a few who cope with excuses after a tough loss. If Mike Evans had drawn a PI in the end zone, and A&M wins the game, Auburn fans would have been the ones on the internet this week saying "We Got Jobbed," "Alabama is conspiring against us for a TAMU rematch," "REC officials y'all," "THEY WERE ALSO HOLDING ALL DAY, ZOMG!" Let's not pretend that a fan base is lacking in class overall, because it happens to everyone in moments like this.

Either you guys got away with one, or you didn't. It doesn't matter which one it is, because what we should all wan't to avoid is embattled conversations centered around the next point.

You don't know if it was a horse collar, and neither do I.

Everyone seems to be a ref, and even if you know the rules, what your eyes see depend fully on who you are. Before someone jumps into the comments and starts posting rules, I'll go ahead and get it out of the way:

"ARTICLE 15. All players are prohibited from grabbing the inside back collar of the shoulder pads or jersey, or the inside collar of the side of the shoulder pads or jersey, and immediately pulling the ball carrier down. This does not apply to a ball carrier, including a potential passer, who is inside the tackle box (Rule 2-34). Note that the tackle box disintegrates when the ball leaves it."

Let's break this rule down and define exactly what needs to happen for a horse collar flag to be thrown.

1. The tackling player needs to have his hand inside the collar of the ball carriers SHOULDER PADS or JERSEY.
2. The ball carrier is immediately pulled down and tackled while the defender's hand is inside of the jersey collar or shoulder pads.

Note that not just one of these items has to happen, but all of them have to happen in one fluid sequence.

If a defender has his hand inside the collar, but another comes up to aid the tackle, it is a legal play. If a player puts his hand inside the jersey, but lets go before tackling the ball carrier, it is a legal play. The ball carrier has to put his hand inside the collar of the SHOULDER PADS or JERSEY and pull the ball carrier down using that point.

If you want to debate whether or not this was the case, then head over to the original post where it's already been beaten to death. If you can't help yourself, and you comment on this page about the rules, then you are part of the problem I am trying to solve.

Contact your representative

I'm a little pissed off that after 4 days the SEC officiating office hasn't released a statement that would probably take all of 30 minutes to review and write for a seasoned official. We all should want an answer, and I don't care what the answer is. I just want it to help save both Tigers and Aggies from a decade of repetitive stupidity.

Take 5 minutes of your life, and either pick up the phone or write a letter to the SEC offices. Let's try to proactively avoid getting into more pointless conversations, and tearing down fences for something this damn stupid.

Southeastern Conference
2201 Richard Arrington Blvd. North
Birmingham, AL 35203

(205) 458-3000 - Ask for officiating, you'll probably hit a machine so just leave a message.

Gig 'Em Aggies, and War Damn Bat