Shawn Eichorst, Mike Riley, and Bob Devaney

I’ll be brief with this prediction.  I have no “inside” information.  I am out on a limb here.

I predict that Nebraska Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst’s hiring of new Nebraska Football Coach Mike Riley will affect Nebraska football substantially similarly to the hiring of Bob Devaney in 1962.

You read it here early.


College Basketball: Inbounds Pass/Throw In and Five Second Count

Here’s a fairly simple rule but one that can occur at a critical point of a basketball game: The five-second violation during a throw-in.

The NCAA Men’s Basketball 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 Rules discuss this violation at Pages 75-76/140.

After a break in the action (e.g. a made basket, a turnover, a timeout), a team inbounding the ball has five seconds from the time the official places the ball is at the disposal of the player entitled to the throw-in to start up the game again.   “Disposal” means the official has either handed the ball to the inbounding player or has otherwise made the ball ready for play.  (Occasionally, a team takes too long to re-enter the court or prepare to inbound the ball, and you will see an official place the ball on the floor–at which point the official has placed the ball at that team’s disposal.)

If the inbounding team exceeds the official’s five-second count, the other team is awarded the ball.  Fans sometimes scream “FIVE SECONDS” without a full understanding of the rule, perhaps thinking that the inbounding team must actually possess the ball inbounds before five seconds expires.

So what has to happen before five seconds elapses?

Rule 7, Section 6, Article 5 (Page 75/140) states:

The thrower-in shall release the ball no more than five seconds after the
throw-in count begins. The pass shall go directly into the playing court, except as
provided in Rule 7-4.6.b.

That is your simple yet important rule: The thrower merely needs to release the ball before the five seconds expires.

(The exception for Rule 7-4.6.b about the pass going directly into the playing court refers to a seldom-made pass after a successful basket or goaltending violation, where the inbounding team may pass the ball between players who are out of bounds at the end line under the basket. The ball ultimately must be passed into the playing court before five seconds expires.)

Football: Helping The Ball Carrier

SHORT ANSWER:  You can push the ball carrier; you cannot pull him.


NCAA Football 2013 and 2014 Rules and Interpretations Rule 9, Section 3, Article 2-b (Page FR-96 or 98/216 on my reader) states:

The ball carrier shall not grasp a teammate; and no other player of his team
shall grasp, pull, or lift him to assist him in forward progress.

Rule 9-3-2-b then references A.R. (Approved Rule) 9-3-2-I (Page 64 of the A.R.’s or 199/216 on my reader), which provides a precise example and discussion of this rule.  This A.R. states:

In trying to gain yardage, ball carrier A44 is slowed by defensive
players attempting to make the tackle. Back A22 (a) puts his hands
on the buttocks of A44 and pushes him forward; (b) pushes the pile of
teammates who begin to surround A44; (c) grabs the arm of A44 and
tries to pull him forward for more yardage.

(a) and (b) Legal.
It is not a foul to push the ball carrier or the pile.

(c) Foul for assisting the runner. 5-yard penalty with three-and-one enforcement. (Rule 9-3-

In comparison, NFL Rule 12, Section 1, Article 4-a (Page 2/11) prohibits offensive players from “pull[ing] a runner in any direction at any time”.  The rule’s silence regarding pushing a runner is telling; it is legal.  In fact, A.R. 12-2 at the bottom of page two provides a specific example of a ball carrier being pushed into the end zone by a teammate.  The ruling?  Touchdown.

(NFL Rules do prohibit pushing a teammate to obstruct an opponent or to recover a loose ball but do not prohibit pushing to advance a runner.)

In summary, college and professional rules allow teammates to assist ball carriers.  Sometimes knowing what is not prohibited is as important as knowing what is.

Football: Completed Forward Pass

Today, my brother and I debated whether an overtime play involving Nebraska’s Kenny Bell actually was a touchdown.  (Nebraska beat Iowa in overtime on this play.)

Here’s the play from a couple of different angles:

The officials ruled a Nebraska touchdown, and the replay review confirmed the field ruling.  Ergo, Nebraska won.  (I argued briefly that Bell did not in fact catch the ball.  My brother finally convinced me that Bell caught the ball with two hands slightly higher than where the ball ended up right before the defender hit Bell and popped the ball loose.  Having the game and replay officials and my brother all agree persuaded me that Bell caught the winning touchdown.)

So what do the rules have to say about this?

NCAA Football 2013 and 2014 Rules and Intepretations Rule 7, Section 3, Article 6 (Pages 76-77) essentially says that a forward pass is complete when caught.  Not terribly complicated, it seems.  But is there more?

In this case, the answer is a firm “No”.  When Bell caught the pass, it was complete.  Duh.

In contrast, National Football League Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3 says that a forward pass is complete when three events occur: 1) a receiver secures the pass in his hands or arms; 2) he touches both feet or a body part other than his hands inbounds; and 3) he maintains possession of the ball either long enough to enable him to perform an act common to the game (e.g. warding off a defender).

Article 3 also contains Item 1 (aka “The Roy Williams Rule”), which discusses completed passes for players who are falling to the ground.  It states:

If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent), he must maintain control of the ball throughout the process of contacting the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete.

The college rule obviously is much simpler but does not remove the discretion (and keen vision) officials need to make these bang-bang calls.

My brother now can tell his Iowa-fan friends why the pass was complete, along with a hearty “See you next year and Go Huskers”.

And you now know the basic standards for completed forward passes at both the college and professional levels.  You can read the rule hyperlinks for the more nuanced portions of the rules.  And believe me, the nuances exist.

Over and out.

CA Memorial Service

I want to thank you if you were able to attend my Dad’s Memorial Service last Thursday.  We appreciated the efforts of so many just to be present on a cold Nebraska night.  It meant a great deal to our family to see you.

For those of you who were unable to attend, here is Dad’s Memorial Service as follows:

  • FullSizeRender(2) FullSizeRender FullSizeRender(1)

H/T (Hat Tip) to DK for his assistance on this project.


Early this morning, my Dad passed away after a long, learned, and satisfying life.  He was at home under a comfortable blanket, and Mom talked with him shortly beforehand.  He was restful, and we shall miss him.

If you ever met him, you know that Dad emphasized happiness, optimism, and humor in life.  I think he’d want us to have those in adequate supply, and I hope those for you.



July 23

Since today is the one year anniversary of this noteworthy event, find below an email I sent this morning commemorating the event.


On Jul 23, 2014, at 11:36 AM, Dan Allen wrote:

> One year ago today at approximately 4:00PM, I suffered sudden cardiac arrest at American National Bank in downtown Omaha. Interestingly, I jogged downtown that afternoon to promote my own health.
> After nine days at Creighton Medical Center, I was released with a brand-spankin’ new ICD (implanted cardioverter defibrillator) that allows mobility; I now can have cardiac arrest (or specifically, in my case, ventricular fibrillation) on the go and anywhere I want with an increased chance of survival–which is nice.
> Since then, several acquaintances have died from sudden cardiac death, which strikes with little or no warning and is frequently fatal unless immediate, emergency medical treatment is available, as it was for me. I consider myself lucky to be alive.
> I do want to thank you for your friendship along the way, including those who were able to visit me in the hospital, although I don’t remember much from those first few days. One friend commented, “I knew DA would be OK when he started telling/repeating his corny jokes from his bed.”
> Life has many twists and turns. I should note that while I didn’t have any “Aha” moments or see a bright white light, my perspective on what is important has evolved somewhat after being–according to the doctors–1-2 minutes from biting the big one.
> If you haven’t experienced a brush with sudden death, don’t veer into oncoming traffic. Suffice it to say that you appreciate certain aspects of life a bit more. For those of you who have been there, you get my drift.
> OK, enough of my musing. Who’s up for a greasy pizza?
> Stay well.
> DA


UPDATE:  Another friend reminded me about a cousin visiting me in the hospital.  The cousin told me he loved me and hoped for a quick recovery.  Said cousin knew I would pull out of it when I responded (without opening my eyes), “Man, don’t make this weird.”