The SEC plays favorites. For a long time many college football fans have suspected this and kept it to themselves because no one really wants to believe it. I am one of those people that have often defended the Southeastern Conference, but today my position has changed.
If you saw the Georgia/Auburn game on Saturday afternoon you witnessed Auburn defensive tackle, Nick Fairley, put no less than three late hits on Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray. In one particular instance, Nick was penalized for a hit where he led with his head into Murray's back after the ball had been thrown. Let me be clear in saying that I understand the occasional late hit happens and is just part of the game. However, when it happens repeatedly to the point that it spawns a brawl between Auburn and Georgia players, it goes from being part of the game to just plain old unsportsmanlike behavior.
The reason that I now believe that the SEC plays favorites is because of their lack of consistency. Earlier this season, South Carolina player Rodney Paulk was suspended half a game for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Kentucky quarterback Randall Cobb. The very next week Mississippi State's own Chris Hughes put a hit on a UAB player that cost him a one game suspension. Hughes was not even flagged for the play but for some reason the SEC later reviewed the tape and decided a one game suspension was a worthy punishment.
That brings us to the punk that plays for Auburn, Nick Fairley. The SEC declared that what Paulk and Hughes did were "unsportsmanlike". Okay...then why wasn't Fairley's actions punished in a similar fashion? The SEC's statement regarding Fairley was basically, "any issues would be handled by the conference office and the institution". What the hell does that even mean, you ask? I'll tell you.
Basically the SEC realizes that Nick Fairley and the Auburn Tigers are the last opportunity for the conference to reach the national championship game. Alabama is the next opponent on Auburn's schedule. The SEC wants and needs Auburn to beat Alabama to make all of their championship dreams come true. It would be a major setback for the Tigers to lose Fairley for that game. Suspending him could cost them dearly.
Mike Slive and the SEC claim to be concerned about player safety. After all, that is their reasoning for the suspensions of Paulk and Hughes. However, their actions today make it very clear that player safety takes a back seat to big money.
If you'd like to see Nick Fairley in action for yourself, the video is below...
Nick Fairley's cheap shots nearly cause a brawl vs. UGA (via monkeycutter)