The new helmet rule in place across college football already has caused much consternation, and now an accusation that helmets are deliberately being ripped off to force players out of the game.
Following Georgia Tech's victory over Virginia last weekend, Tevin Washington and coach Paul Johnson both felt the quarterback's helmet was deliberately targeted during two separate goal-line situations. Washington's helmet came off twice, and he was forced to leave the game for one play.
Johnson said Saturday it was, "ironic that it only came off on the goal line in the scrum." Washington said, "A couple times I got stood up, they took my helmet off. I really don’t like that rule."
After re-watching the game tape, Johnson backed off his comments Monday, telling the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. It happens all the time.”
Indeed, Washington has lost his helmet several times this season, including in the opener against Virginia Tech just outside the red zone.
Still, Virginia coach Mike London has had to answer questions for two days about whether his players were deliberately trying to take off helmets because of the new rule. On Sunday, he denied that his players deliberately tried to rip of Washington's helmet.
During his news conference Monday, London said:
"I've seen countless number of games where helmets are coming off. There's more of a conscious effort between buckling them up and things like that. But if a helmet is coming off it has to be seen by an official someone grabbing the facemask or intentionally ripping it off. I have yet to see penalties thrown where someone was intentionally trying to grab a helmet off through a facemask or through just trying to rip it off. But you're seeing more helmets come off.
"What can be done to fix the situation? It is all about buckling the chin straps or getting helmets re-sized.
"It's more of a conscious effort to make sure that those things stay buckled up and stay on, but you look at TV games, there's two to three times a game that a helmet comes off from contact or just from guys forcing pressure up on a helmet and it pops off," London said.