A "point of emphasis" that needs to be de-emphasized...
If it had happened in a game that mattered, the Youtube hits would be in the millions instead of thousands. Vanderbilt forces 4th down against Northwestern late in the game, giving them one last chance with the ball and chance to overcome a 2 point deficit.
That's what was supposed to happen.
Instead, one of this year's "points of emphasis" rears its ugly head at the worst possible time. The "high hit" rule.
Players are supposed to be penalized for initiating contact above the shoulders or targeting a "defenseless" player.
Neither happened in this case.
Even the Big Ten's own network couldn't defend the call.
Former college football head coach Gerry DiNardo, appearing on the Big Ten Network, called it a "legal hit."
Unfortunately, he was forced to then qualify his response based on this remark by former Northwestern (surprise!) football player Chris Martin:
"The most important thing here is the act to protect the players. We've seen way too many concussions. We read about it every day in the paper and so I'm okay with this but as Coach said there's going to be some more mistake calls on this."
"We're going to make some mistakes with this rule but this is progress in college football... and if that means making a couple of bad calls, I'm all for it."
The problem is that referees aren't protecting players by making bad calls. They're complicating the ability of players to properly play the game.
That's why the existence of these annual "points of emphasis" does nothing to assist officiating. It elevates the awareness in a ref's mind to throw a flag when no flag is necessary.
Complicate that with the fact that a "judgment call" like this is not reviewable and you've got coming to you what DiNardo and Martin are apparently all for:
A season of college football with a lot more poor officiating on the way under that tricky banner of "player safety."