So let's start this past Saturday in Cincinnati's game against the Miami Redhawks, shall we?
It's not easy to see in the video there, but towards the end you can see Bearcats quarterback Gunner Kiel getting blasted after he released the ball. Naturally, the defender was flagged for roughing the passer.
At the last instant you see Kiel free-falling to the ground. More than likely his shoulders hit the turf, his head snapped back and bounced off the ground. With my medical background, you can talk all you want about how it was a neck strain and not a concussion. I am not an idiot, and I know that he very likely suffered at least a mild concussion, whether he successfully passed the concussion protocol or not (that's another conversation).
Obviously, Tommy Tuberville had to keep Kiel out of the game - against Gunner's wishes - because Tommy is his coach and has the team's best interests in mind. Which means that when your quarterback seemed as though "everything was just a little fuzzy," you sit his ass down on the bench and don't let him come back.
But then, Tuberville changed course, in two ways. First, he changed his commentary from saying that Kiel "got his bell rung a little" to saying "it was more of an upper shoulder and neck injury," which is pure puffery if I've ever heard it. Then, after initial reports suggested that Kiel might not start last night against Memphis due to the short, five-day turnaround, Kiel wound up not even missing a practice - and then started against the Tigers.
Again: Tuberville held him out the entire second half as a precaution, but then allowed him to practice and play fully from that point on. There's our first problem.
Then, of course, not only does a quarterback who was at least slightly concussed just five days prior start the game, the Bearcats call a quarterback option run for their opening touchdown!
Diving into the endzone.... HE'S IN! Gunner Kiel goes in for 4-yard TD & Bearcats take early 7-0 lead. http://t.co/SliQBZIEzs #CINvsMEM— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) September 24, 2015
Seriously, Tommy. You either care about his well-being enough to hold him out of an entire half a football game as pure precaution, OR you are cavalier enough to let your quarterback practice and play as though his head never bounced off the ground five days ago.
This hits home extra hard considering it was just yesterday morning that SB Nation's Bill Connelly shared his thoughts on CTE, making football safer, and all that jazz. I can assure you that the way Tuberville went about all this is part of the problem, not the solution.
Because not to much later into the game, this happened:
Gunner Kiel was the victim of a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit. He was not moving. https://t.co/JIA3aphwg2— Dr. Saturday (@YahooDrSaturday) September 25, 2015
Look more like shoulder-to-shoulder than helmet-to-helmet? http://t.co/UkqRCv4n0B pic.twitter.com/FpT6Bw3ERJ— SB✯Nation CFB (@SBNationCFB) September 25, 2015
GIF: 2nd look at the hit that sent Gunner Kiel to the hospital to be checked out pic.twitter.com/t8YdVAjOKE— The Cauldron (@TheCauldron) September 25, 2015
Now, the referees can debate about whether the hit was targeting and all of that, but I am not interested in whether or not the hit was a penalty (it was). I'm more interested in the thought that Kiel should never have been in that situation to begin with.
The better football players at the collegiate level - and Kiel is one of the better ones - are stubborn and hot-headed and many other Type A character traits. They require a leveler head to prevail, and that most often comes in the form of their head coach being the voice of reason. The fact that Tuberville had to stop Kiel from re-entering the RedHawks game is a testament to that.
So why all of a sudden change course? Whether the primary injury Gunner Kiel suffered initially was a "neck strain" (aka whiplash) or a concussion, he most certainly experienced both. That would make two times in six days that Kiel has at least experienced a mild concussion, and we have reams and reams of evidence of why allowing that to happen is a bad idea.
Perhaps Tuberville was scared to death at the possibility that after how bad Hayden Moore looked when replacing Kiel against Miami, he would look even worse against a better Memphis team and they would be destined to lose. If that is the case, then a) that is most definitely the wrong motivation, and b) Moore most certainly proved his doubts premature tonight.
On the bright side:
Gunner Kiel is at Methodist University Hospital. I'm told he is conscious and moving all extremities. Family is with him.— Kaylee Hartung (@KayleeHartung) September 25, 2015
That said, I do not give a damn how many tests Kiel passes or what sweet nothings he whispers in his coaches' ears over the next week. If he opens next Thursday under center against the Miami Hurricanes, then as far as I am concerned Tommy Tuberville should be fired immediately for showing Brady Hoke-level ignorance when it comes to the safety of his own players.