Everyone remembers the controversy last season regarding the Michigan Wolverines and quarterback Shane Morris against Minnesota. It was clear that some sort of head injury had occurred, yet the coaching staff elected to keep him in the game, along with other issues.
Bill Carollo, the Big Ten's Coordinator of Officiating, spoke on Friday during the conference's media day press conference session and addressed changes they have made to be better prepared for those types of scenarios.
He first spoke on the procedure for spotters in the press box in regards to head injuries and how that reform came out.
"Well, the genesis really goes back to our number one priority as officials. And that is player safety, player protectio," Carollo said. "And when we had that situation that we you know, we're not doctors, we're not medically trained out there as officials. And sometimes in the heat of the battle, you know, we miss an injury. And a lot of times injuries, as you know, isn't the one real big hit. I think the officials do an outstanding job and so do the coaches and trainers on the sideline.
"This is just maybe the fifth layer of support. You have the player who gets injured himself. You have the teammates. You have the sidelines. You have the officials. And now this is maybe the fifth level of support to acknowledge and recognize a player may be injured. So everything around the whole game, it's an exciting game but it's a very violent game and this is trying just to protect that player."
Speed is obviously most important when it comes to addressing injuries and establishing communication, so the layers to the new procedure to some seem like it would take too long. Carollo says that they are experimenting to find out what works best.
"Having the medical spotter in our pilot that we did, our test in our championship game, we put the certified athletic trainer in the replay booth," he said.
"So we're talking only a few feet away. And he has medical equipment for replay just like the replay official does. But it's his own personal one. He can go back to the first play of the series if it looks like that player may have been injured a play or two before that because he's starting to stumble."
Carollo noted that the Morris situation at Michigan was what got the nation's attention, but that they have been working on tightening things up for the last few years.
"Well, I think that situation got a lot of people's attention across the country. But I'll tell you, it was two years ago that we experimented with this same idea at multiple spring games in the Big Ten. And we had a vendor from DB Sports, which is our vendor in this case, build some prototype equipment," he said.
"We put him on the sideline. We actually experimented a little differently. We put the actual equipment and gave it to the trainers on the sideline so the actual trainers had the opportunity to go back, not just talk to the player but go back to the film live on the field and look at it.
"So this has been a work in progress for a couple years. And maybe the situation at Michigan accelerated it. But player safety is paramount as far as we're concerned. And I think this is a step in the right direction."