Bielema employs unsportsmanlike strategy

Bret Bielema's offside strategy worked against Penn State, but the tactics were unsportsmanlike, writes Rod Gilmore.

Updated: November 7, 2006, 5:01 PM ET
By Rod Gilmore | Special to ESPN.com
Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema's antics in the Penn State game Saturday is evidence of coaches who don't care about players. I couldn't believe what he did.

In case you didn't see it, Bielema had his team intentionally go offside on three consecutive kickoffs near the end of the first half in order to run time off the clock. Wisconsin had just taken a 10-3 lead with 23 seconds left and Bielema's strategy was to take advantage of the new rule instituted this year that allows the clock to run when the ball is kicked. (Previously, the clock would not run until the ball was touched by the receiving team.) Bielema's strategy kept Penn State from getting the ball before halftime. After all, there were only 23 seconds before the end of the half. Many coaches dislike the rule and want it changed. Bielema told the USA Today that he expects his tactic to result in "an (amendment)" to the rule.

Maybe so, but his tactics were unsportsmanlike and totally indifferent to unnecessarily exposing Wisconsin and Penn State players to additional harm. Everyone knows that special teams plays are the most dangerous plays in a game because of clipping, chop blocks, blind side hits and vulnerable kick return men. That's why so many coaches are reluctant to practice special teams at full speed.


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Rod Gilmore

College Football analyst
Rod Gilmore serves as an ESPN studio analyst on SportsCenter and College Football Live, and provides commentary on ESPN's Friday night game telecasts. He writes regularly for ESPN Insider.

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