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There are a lot of ridiculous items in the NCAA rule book, but this may take the cake


That the NCAA rule book is glutted with more with more pork and outright nonsense than the latest Congressional budget is not a new concept. However, we may have just run across one of the most baffling and nonsensical items in the entire rule book.

First, let's back up a bit.

On Wednesday we ran a story on Dartmouth head coach Buddy Teevens' appearance on the Dan Patrick radio show. Teevens came on the show to promote the mechanical, moving tackling bags the Big Green have used since last season. “By doing it with bags, we become a lot more consistent, and a lot more confident by player," Teevens said. "And actually, the first season we went to this we dropped our missed tackles literally 50%. We cut them in half.”

Dartmouth has aggressively promoted the Mobile Virtual Players (MVPs) since the beginning of the 2015 season, and Teevens made an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in Octoberto promote the MVPs, even running Colbert through a demonstration.

But after our piece ran yesterday, it was brought to our attention that, by our interpretation, the NCAA has stated using Dartmouth's MVP or anything of the sort is unethical.

Page FR-10 of the 2015 NCAA Football Rules and Interpretations book (download a free PDF here) details "Coaching Ethics." The section header reads:

"Deliberately teaching players to violate the rules is indefensible. The coaching of intentional holding, beating the ball, illegal shifting, feigning injury, interference, illegal forward passing or intentional roughing will break down rather than aid in the building of the character of players. Such instruction is not only unfair to one’s opponent but is demoralizing to the players entrusted to a coach’s care and has no place in a game that is an integral part of an educational program."

The section then outlines unethical practices, point by point. Point A discourages teams from changing players' numbers during a game to deceive the opponent. Point B outlaws using the helmet as a weapon.

Point C reads, "Using a self-propelled mechanical apparatus in the teaching of blocking and tackling."

See for yourself below.

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 11.50.47 AM

It's worth noting that this isn't a by-the-letter rule, but the "Football Code" section is placed directly in front of the Part I of the rule book. This isn't hidden in the back behind the appendix; the rule book's authors wanted this seen.

The exact language as shown above has been on the books since at least 2000 (as far back as I could find online).

Dartmouth spokesman Rick Bender says the program has not run into any resistance from the NCAA or any opponents since implementing the MVPs, indicating the NCAA could be using some common-sense blindness to an apparently nonsensical standard. But that doesn't explain how the rule got there and why it's still on the books. I reached out to NCAA officiating chief Rogers Redding for answers, but he has yet to respond to my email and voicemail seeking comment.

In the meantime, we're left to wonder what could possibly be unethical about this.