Last Saturday during the Missouri-Nebraska game in Lincoln, Huskers safety Courtney Osborne, following a 15-yard sprint, unleashed a spectacular helmet-to-helmet hit on Tigers quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
Despite Referee Randy Christal staring directly at the collision, and being expressly charged with protecting the quarterback, no call was made on the play.
Though he’s seeking “a review” of the play by the Big 12 office, Missouri Coach Gary Pinkel was remarkably restrained about the hit when talking to reporters this week.
“We’ll see what happens. I don’t know if there was malice involved there. They got after him pretty good, but he’s in really good shape.”
After Osborne smashed Gabbert to the ground, he jumped up and gave a muscle flex pose while still in the vicinity of the dazed, fallen quarterback.
Vahe Gregorian of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH has more on the reaction to the play:
Different angles, not to mention different lenses of beholders, have created a debate over the question of intent and just what Osborne could or should have done differently.
Later in the Big 12 media teleconference, Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said he thought it was a good hit and that he thought Gabbert “ducked a little bit at the last second.”
Whether intent or result matters most remains to be determined.
“The Big 12’s going to do what they have to do,” Pelini said. “I can’t control that.”
In 2005, the NCAA clarified its rule on helmet-to-helmet and spearing hits, making clear that “intent” is irrelevant. If a player leads with his helmet, a 15-yard penalty is assessed regardless of circumstances.
Referee Christal blew the call. More importantly, Gabbert was left with an obvious head injury of which Gregorian reported, “at one point in the second half (Gabbert) tried to call a timeout MU didn’t have and seemed slightly dazed after the game.”
If that isn’t classic symptoms of a concussion, what is?
The all around subdued reaction to Osborne’s hit, especially after Gabbert’s subsequent symptoms, is appalling. If this hit can’t cause a player to be penalized and perhaps later sanctioned by the league, what hit will?