Ivy League football teams have decided they will no longer participate in tackling drills during the regular season, according to a Tuesday report from The New York Times. The eight Ivy League head coaches convened last week and unanimously agreed upon the decision, which aims to address growing concerns about brain trauma and other injuries. It must be affirmed by other league officials and university presidents before it becomes official.
Dartmouth Coach Buddy Teevens started the trend of cutting full-contact drills in 2010, and the league has since taken notice.
Teevens and the minds surrounding him in New Hampshire have not eliminated contact from their drills, however. Instead of instituting player-on-player contact or player-on-immobile-object contact, the Big Green developed what they call their Mobile Virtual Player, or MVP.
The MVP is a remote-controlled tackling dummy that allows defenders to practice tackling an object that moves similarly to a real-life offensive player, just without the helmet-to-helmet hits. Sporting the normal cushy pads up top in the tackle area and down below surrounding the wheels and motor, the mobile dummy has the ability to make sudden cuts and can reach speeds similar to those of the league’s top-flight players.
Contrary to what some football minds may deride as taking the fire out of the players, the contact-free practices have assisted the Big Green in staying healthier throughout the course of the year, and, according to Teevens, have not had an adverse effect on the team’s ability to take down an opponent.
“At this stage in their careers, these guys know how to hit and take a hit,” Mr. Teevens said in a phone interview. “People look at it and say we’re nuts. But it’s kept my guys healthy.”
The Big Green won a share of the 2015 Ivy League title, so it would seem as though Teevens, and now the Ivy League, might have a point.