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Ohio State's Kurt Coleman Suspended, No Punishment for Illinois' Supo Sanni After Punch

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Kristofer Green

Ohio State senior safety and captain Kurt Coleman was suspended for one game today by the Big Ten Conference office. Coleman will not make the trip with the Buckeyes when they travel to Bloomington to face Indiana on Saturday.

The suspension is a result of a helmet-to-helmet hit on Illinois quarterback Eddie McGee in the final minutes of Saturday's 30-0 Ohio State victory over the Illini in Ohio Stadium. The Big Ten, citing a new NCAA rule requiring conferences to review flagrant personal fouls, especially those involving helmet-to-helmet contact and those that target an opponent.

The hit was absolutely late and deserved the 15 yard personal foul penalty that followed. Ohio State coaches recognized the situation and Coleman was immediately removed from the game. However, the conference felt further punishment was in order.

Ohio State officials and coach Jim Tressel couldn't agree less with the ruling.

Shortly after the decision from the office came down, Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith and Tressel released a joint statement strongly disagreeing with the suspension which they called "poor judgement" by the Big Ten office.

"Obviously, we will abide by the one-game suspension from the Big Ten Conference, but we feel as if there was poor judgment throughout," Ohio State's statement reads.

"We concur that Kurt's hit was late and a result of poor judgment; he was thus penalized and removed from the game by his coaches. We do not agree that it was 'premeditated' or that he was 'targeting a defenseless' player.

"The decision to suspend points to the conference office's feeling as if there was poor judgment by the game officials for their decision not to eject at the time. In our estimation, the final 'poor judgment' is in levying a one-game suspension in this particular case. We will abide by the decision, learn from it, and move forward."

The Buckeyes statement leaves little room for interpretation. They obviously feel that if the hit was so bad to warrant a suspension that Coleman should have been ejected on the spot. And they have a point.

These types of hits occur all the time in football. Are they dangerous? Yes. But so is 11 men running at full speed toward 11 other men with the intention of hitting each other. That is the game of football like it or not.

The hit was late, but it didn't look like a premeditated attack as the conference suggests by saying Coleman targeted McGee for the hit. It looked like any number of plays that happen on college football fields across the country.

The Big Ten has become a suspension happy league over the last couple of weeks, but Coleman's suspension is the first that was actually flagged on the field.

The conference suspended Michigan linebacker Jonas Mouton for punching Notre Dame's Eric Olsen and Purdue offensive linemen Zach Reckman was suspended for Saturday's game against the Irish after a late hit at the end of the Boilermaker's loss to Northern Illinois.

Purdue coach Danny Hope suspended Reckman for a quarter but the conference overruled his decision saying the more appropriate punishment would be a full game because the hit "could have triggered a larger incident."

"I don't think Zach Reckman should've jumped in there on that guy at the end of the play but maybe he was hoping the ball would come out," Hope said Sunday. "He was trying to find a way to win."

Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez, who wasn't going to suspend Mouton before the conference stepped in, said he would be watching every Big Ten game closely this season to find similar instances of non-football acts.

If coach Rodriguez was watching closely then he surely saw Illinois cornerback Supo Sanni throw a punch at Ohio State offensive lineman Scott Sika after Sanni tackled quarterback Terrelle Pryor at least four yards out of bounds.

The conference had nothing to say about that.



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