In 2010, Dartmouth head football coach Buddy Teevens eliminated full-contact hitting at practices.
Now the rest of the Ivy League is following suit.
Indeed, the league’s eight head coaches voted last week to eliminate full-contact hitting from practices during the 10-game regular season. The new measure is expected to be put in place for the 2016 season.
“It was about a five-minute discussion,” Teevens said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Everybody said it’s for the good of our players and the good of the game. There’s no benefit or disadvantage to anybody in the collective group, so hey, we’re all on board.”
Teevens, 59, may be on to something. After hovering around .500 for several years, Dartmouth finished 8-2 in 2014 and 9-1 in 2015. Instead of tackling each other at practice, Dartmouth’s defenders hit a 5-10, 150-pound robot developed by the university’s school of engineering. The name of the robot? MVP: Mobile Virtual Player.
“I think (the decrease in hits) can change the game and help the longevity of people over time,” Teevens said. “People think (the lack of tackling puts us at a disadvantage). I don’t feel that way, nor does my defensive staff. We’re a nationally ranked team in FCS and we’ve been doing this for five years. The first year we went from a tackling to a non-tackling transition, our missed tackles dropped 50 percent. We tackle a bunch. We’re more secure with it. And again, the health of the players (is important). This past year, I had two players miss games defensively. That’s it. I attribute a lot of that . . . to the fact that we’re not putting these guys through things in preseason and on through the course of the season. They maintain their health.”
Teevens believes this measure could work in bigger conference like the SEC and Big Ten.
“I think so,” he said. “If the conference commissioners said this is what we’re going to do and implement it across the board . . . there would be a benefit and, in my opinion, there would not be a loss. I keep going back to the NFL. That’s as good a people get, and they’re not hurting their players in practice. Game day is the most important. I think we can do it as well. You still have to tackle. I don’t advocate getting away from it completely. But teach it more productively and be more selective when you use player-on-player tackling.”