The SEC office said Tuesday that Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley would not be suspended for the Alabama game on Nov. 26 for any of his hits on Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray.
The official statement from the SEC was that "any issues would be handled between the conference office and the institution."
The translation: Auburn has been put on alert that Fairley will be suspended if he engages in any more late hits.
The SEC reviewed tape of the Georgia game and several of Fairley’s hits on Murray. Fairley was penalized in the third quarter when he led with his helmet and hit Murray in the back after Murray had already released the pass.
The fact that Fairley was penalized on the play probably contributed to his not being suspended.
Had that same hit occurred in the NFL, he would have been fined. Of course, the SEC doesn’t have that luxury.
The league’s only recourse is to suspend a player or hand down a private or public reprimand. In this case, it sounds like Fairley received the private variety.
The problem with the Georgia game was that there were several instances where he hit Murray late. On one, he drove Murray into the ground and wasn’t penalized.
All of college football is cracking down on the helmet-to-helmet hits. Earlier this season, South Carolina’s Rodney Paulk had to sit out a half after his helmet-to-helmet hit on Kentucky’s Randall Cobb. Mississippi State’s Chris Hughes had to sit out an entire game after taking out a UAB player from behind some 30 or 40 yards away from the play.
Auburn will already be without two defensive linemen (Michael Goggans and Mike Blanc) for the first half of the Alabama game after they were ejected for throwing punches.
Fairley should count himself as lucky that he won’t be sitting over there on the sideline with them.