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Ivy League commish: "I don't understand is why everybody doesn't adopt the same tackling rule in one fell swoop."

Ivy League Harvard

Earlier this week Ivy League head coaches formally approved a ban on in-season tackling during practice. On Thursday, Ivy League executive director Robin Harris backed up her coaches' move, saying:

“I do think we'll see this at all levels,” Harris said. “I don't know how long it will take. Research and data take a long time to develop. We can't wait for the research. As research comes in and we need to modify something, we will. Frankly, what I don't understand is why everybody doesn't adopt the same tackling rule in one fell swoop. Then no one is at a competitive disadvantage and we protect the athletes.”

The answer, at least in big-time college football, is "we already have."

"None of us tackle during the season," Stanford head coach David Shaw said on ESPN's Championship Drive podcast this week. "While the season's going on and we get into the fall, nobody tackles anybody."

"Where tackling is important for me," Shaw continued, "is spring football and training camp. That's where you teach it. Some people try to either diminish or get rid of spring football the way that it is, and I think we would be doing our people a disservice. It's interesting, too, to talk to a bunch of NFL guys and talk about the new CBA and decreased amount of contact, which to a certain degree is better for NFL players, but it makes it harder to teach guys how to play a game. For linebackers, how to fill a hole, how to take on a shoulder. If you don't do it in pads, you can't expect them to do it on Sunday with the world watching. For us, we're still in the business of teaching and training these young men how to play this sport. You have to do it with pads on and you have to do it with some level of contact. I think it's wise on all of us to do it as intelligently as possible. We will have segments of practice that are very, very physical. The majority of practice for us is still 30 minutes of individual, 15 minutes of teaching and technique, and then 10 minutes of contact, and then we take a Gatorade break. Yeah, there's going to be contact, it's going to be physical, but there's also going to be the majority of practice, which is on skill and instruction."

Coaches must strike the balance between protecting their players from unnecessary contact while also properly preparing them for 12 Saturdays a year. And it seems most have figured that out, league-wide rules or not.