The Big 12 has decided to suspend Nebraska linebacker Eric Martin for his kickoff return hit on an Oklahoma State player that left the defender on the ground for several mintues. Here's the official statement from the conference:
"Upon review of game tape of the Saturday, October 23, Nebraska at Oklahoma State football game, Big 12 Conference Commissioner Dan Beebe has announced that Nebraska sophomore linebacker Eric Martin has been suspended for the October 30 game vs. Missouri.
“Mr. Martin committed a flagrant act of targeting an opponent with the crown of his helmet in violation of NCAA Football Rules,” said Commissioner Beebe. “This dangerous hit is one that we in the football community are trying to remove from the game.”
The hit occurred during a kick off return around the 6:40 mark in the first quarter of Saturday's game. In accordance with NCAA Football Rule 9-6-3, “if subsequent review of a game by a conference reveals plays involving flagrant personal fouls that game officials did not call, the conference may impose sanctions prior to the next scheduled game.”
If anyone thinks this is anything but a jab at Nebraska by Beebe, you're kidding yourself. Not only was Martin not flagged on the play, but if you watch the replay closely, Martin clearly leads with his shoulder not the crown of his helmet. The side of Martin's helmet may have caught the chin of the defender, but it in no way was malicious. Martin was ahead of the play and blocked the player he was supposed to. The OSU player wasn't paying close attention to his surroundings, and definitely wasn't defenseless.
I also find it somewhat humorous that later in the game, an Oklahoma State defender clearly hit Martinez helmet to helmet, was flagged for it, but the player has not been suspended. A little hypocritical if you ask me. The Big 12 simply wanted to find an excuse to penalize the Huskers anyway they could, and this is the result. Martin probably wouldn't have played much on defense anyway due to Missouri's spread attack, but is certainly a major part of the Nebraska special teams. If the Huskers needed any extra motivation to rid themselves of their home field woes this weekend, I think they've found it.