CHICAGO (AP) — Watch your step, Jim Harbaugh.
The rest of you Big Ten coaches, too.
Conference officials are tired of coaches who treat the sideline like a stage and rage like Hamlet over calls they don’t like — and they’re prepared, finally, to do something about it.
Of the several rules changes in store for the 2017 season, stricter enforcement of the coach’s box may have the greatest impact of all. Violators are subject to a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.
“We wouldn’t take a tenth of what some coaches do and say from a player, and this is the adult in the game setting the example,” coordinator of officials Bill Carollo said Tuesday at Big Ten media days.
“That’s kind of our thinking — ‘Know what? We should enforce this, but we have to do it consistently,'” he added. “Big games, coaches, I don’t care who they are. It doesn’t matter.”
The consensus was that coaches literally crossed the line to make their points too often last season.
“It has gotten to the point that (coaches) are holding court outside the numbers,” Carollo said. “If they do get a flag, they stay out there and say ‘What’s the call?’ We were too easy on the rule. Across the country, it got really bad.”
The subject came to light most notably in the Michigan-Ohio State game last November, when an irate Harbaugh slammed his headset to the ground and threw a play sheet so far it ended up in the middle of the field. He accused the sideline official of being too preoccupied with his whereabouts on the field, among his critical postgame comments that drew a $10,000 fine.
“If we do it right, the most significant difference will be the coach on the field,” Carollo said. “I was really clear to our guys, ‘I’m just telling you, we’ve pledged to each other that we’re going to call this consistently.’ They have the marching orders. They’re going to flag this. It will clean up the game a little bit. That’s good.”
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