Notebook: Pac-12 tackles tackling

CULVER CITY, Calif. -- Hitting.

Apparently it happens quite a bit in the game of football. And Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, who announced plans last month for a new contact policy in practice, unveiled the details at Friday’s Pac-12 media day.

The policy still has to be certified by the institution’s athletic directors, but the ADs, presidents, chancellors and coaches have all agreed to establish certain practice parameters that go beyond the current limitations set forth by the NCAA. The plan is expected to be in place for the start of the 2013 preseason camps.

Here are some elements of the new policy (paraphrased). You can see the official language here:

  • The Pac-12 defines “Full contact” sessions as any live tackling where players are taken to the ground. Full contact does not include “thud” sessions or “wrapping up” drills where players don’t go to the ground.

  • Pac-12 institutions will have two full-contact practices per week during the regular season.

  • For days in which Pac-12 institutions schedule a two-a-day practice, full contact is only allowed in one of the two two-a-day sessions during preseason camp.

  • During spring ball, there will be eight permissible full-contact practices, but only two per week.

These rules aren’t anything drastic. In fact, most institutions have adopted similar policies. The Pac-12 is just the first conference to make it official and put it in writing.

“I think our league and about every coach in the country has went to those guidelines anyway, if not even less contact than that,” Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said. “Because as a coach, you have to be concerned about the welfare of your team and you know your team and you know how beat up you are and what you have to do and how hard you have to work on hitting and what you have to do.

“So I think everybody has worked hard on it and I think most of the coaches in our league and most throughout the country are already kind of doing that anyway.”

In coming to a consensus on the new policy, the league talked with medical practitioners, conference athletic directors and Pac-12 athletes.

“Our coaches support the new parameters, and their feedback helped us strike an important balance that limits contact across all seasons, but allows for our teams to be sharp and compete at the highest level,” Scott said.

Speaking of hitting ...

Besides the contact policy, the new national “targeting” rule that could lead to player ejections was also a hot topic among some of the league’s premier defensive players. Here’s a sampling of what some of the players had to say, which ranged from delicate to defiant:

Stanford linebacker Shayne Skov: “We’ve been trained to hit properly. Football is an aggressive sport and I’m going to keep playing the way I play, and it’s part of the nature of the game … we’re going to play aggressive and do it the right way and if you do that we won’t have any problems with head trauma collisions and I don’t foresee any in the future.”

California linebacker Nick Forbes: “As a defender, the automatic ejection is scary. You don’t want to put yourself or your team in that situation. But fortunately, we were fortunate to have great coaching staffs that teach us the proper technique … the best tackles are made with good form.”

UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr: “I understand the rule, but as a defensive player it’s going to be difficult to fully adjust my game … So as I play, I’m going to play within the rules that I’ve always played and play like I’ve always played, full speed and attacking. And if I get penalized because of it, then so be it. But I’m going play the way I play football.”

Washington State safety Deone Bucannon: “It’s a rule that’s going to be hard to abide by, going full speed, but at the same time, whatever helps player safety. So if that’s what the rule is, then I’m going try as a player to, to the best of my ability, abide by those and to be as safe as possible for the other player and myself. I’m going to be more aware on the field and proper adjustments like I should.”