Big Ten officials suspend Coleman

Published 2:18 am Tuesday, September 29, 2009

COLUMBUS — Ohio State strong safety Kurt Coleman has been suspended for one game for a helmet-to-helmet hit and “targeting a defenseless opponent” in the ninth-ranked Buckeyes’ 30-0 win over Illinois on Saturday.

Soon after the suspension was announced, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith and football coach Jim Tressel issued a statement conceding that it was a late hit. But they added that “poor judgment” was used throughout the situation and that Coleman should not have been suspended.

Coleman, a team captain and second-team All-Big Ten selection a year ago, was flagged for the hit on Illinois backup quarterback Eddie McGee on the final drive of the game. McGee had gained 4 yards when he was hit by Coleman.

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Coleman will miss Ohio State’s game at Indiana on Saturday night.

In announcing the suspension on Monday, the conference cited a new rule for the 2009 season mandating a post-game video review by a conference of any flagrant personal fouls.

“Obviously, we will abide by the one-game suspension from the Big Ten Conference, but we feel as if there was poor judgment throughout,” Smith and Tressel said in a joint statement issued by the school.

“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.”

Players from Michigan and Purdue had earlier been suspended for separate incidents this season after their actions were reviewed by the Big Ten.

Tressel said last week that he has tried to educate his players that in the age of multiple camera angles, it’s hard to get away with a punch, an obscene gesture or other unsportsmanlike conduct.

“We’ve been talking about it since preseason,” he said before the Illinois game. “Every night we spend time on rules and every night we would remind them that there’s a rule. (It’s) not whether you thought you got away with it or not — (because on) Monday they’re watching the film. And there’s going to be some suspensions. … You’ve got to do what’s right. And if you don’t, you (won’t) get away with it.”

Yet Smith and Tressel said Coleman’s suspension was unjustified.

“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,” the duo said. “In our estimation, the final ‘poor judgment’ is in levying a one-game suspension in this particular case.”

Both the Big Ten and Ohio State said they would have no further comment.