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Dantonio, Pelini don’t see eye-to-eye on clapping issue

Call it “Clapgate” or “The Great Clapping Debate of 2014” or whatever name you want, but it’s pretty clear that Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio and Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini don’t see eye-to-eye on what went down last Saturday night in East Lansing, Mich.

What we initially saw were multiple snapping issues between quarterback Tommy Armstrong, Jr. and senior center Mark Pelini. However, it appears there could’ve been a nefarious reason for those two big issues in Saturday’s game — Michigan State players simulating the snap.

On Tuesday’s Big Ten coaches teleconference the topic was brought up, and it’s safe to say the two sides of the debate don’t see eye-to-eye.

Pelini addressed the issue, saying he would take up his concerns with the league office. His big bone of contention is that he sees what MSU players were doing as simulating the snap or cadence of the snap count of his quarterback.

“The rule is you can’t do anything intentionally to simulate a snap, to simulate a snap count.

“It isn’t the first time it ever happened. Michigan State isn’t the first team to do it. But you would hope that they would catch it. But, you know, it went past them, and we need to make adjustments to make sure that doesn’t happen again. We need to make sure we’re on the same page.”

Given the loud nature of crowds, many teams (Nebraska included) have gone to a snap count that involves the quarterback clapping his hands instead of barking out signals. However, if one is to believe Dantonio, the Spartans have also adopted that practice on their defensive line.

For him that means being able to have his players clap their hands to make the calls needed to adjust the defensive line.

“From my perspective, we have the opportunity to move our people any way we want to move them,” said Dantonio.

Yes, Dantonio, you do have the right to move your players as you see fit…within the rules. Simulating the snap is not within the rules.

Whether nefarious, on purpose or just trying to align players as they see fit, it is a bit curious that the player doing the clapping is always the outside linebacker, who also happens to be standing right at the line of scrimmage.

The simple answer to this situation comes from the video above. Without the MSU players clapping their hands at the line of scrimmage would Pelini have snapped the ball?

It’s certainly hard to argue from the video evidence that there wasn’t a correlation between the MSU players clapping and Pelini snapping the ball.

Now the question is, what will the Big Ten officials do in the future? Will we see flags for this or will MSU be told to adjust how they make their signals on the defensive line.

If this is an ongoing issue for opponents in Big Ten play, you can bet this will become a bigger story for some in the media.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball


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