Dick Vitale spews a lot of hot air and is as obnoxious as they come in the TV announcing booth. However, recently he proposed an idea, though not totally original, that is worth considering for college basketball.

He said college basketball ought to do away with the foul-out rule, while still having consequences for players that pick up five fouls.

He said: "We're the only sport where a player is penalized and put out of a game with a whistle. You take your star player who you prepare all week with, you work, you develop your offensive, defensive schemes, all of a sudden, boom, boom, two fouls, he's out of the game."

Referring to Georgetown's early loss in the NCAA tournament, Vitale said: "Roy Hibbert played 16 minutes in the game. Vital player for Georgetown. I'd like to see a rule where a player can stay on the floor, at the coach's discretion, and every foul after the fifth ... you get two shots and the basketball. Think about it. Basketball is the only sport where a guy is disqualified because a guy blowing a whistle controls the whole scenario."

OK, Vitale isn't exactly right that basketball is the only sport where a player can be disqualified by an official's whistle. Players can be kicked out of football games, hockey games, soccer games and baseball games by officials for fighting or arguing or hurting another player.

However, players aren't disqualified from other sports for too many fouls or penalties.

In football, an offensive lineman can get five holding calls and he stays in the game. In soccer a player can get five fouls and stay in the game. Hockey players can get several penalties a game without being disqualified.

I can guess what many of you are thinking — just don't foul if you want to stay in the game!

That's easy to say, but how many times have you seen a player, usually a big guy, stand still with his hands straight up in the air as another player comes barreling into him, yet still get called with a foul? Or you see a player driving to the hoop make slight contact with a defender, who flops to the floor and the official calls a foul on the offensive player?

Most college coaches these days automatically take a player out after he gets his second foul in the first half, fearing he'll pick up this third before halftime. That leaves key players on the bench for long stretches of time in the first half because of coaches' fears of too many fouls.

Utah and BYU fans have been frustrated over the past three years by the early foul trouble their centers Luke Nevill and Trent Plaisted often get into, limiting their minutes while they sit on the bench. Nevill picked up two quick fouls in the first game of the year and spent the next 18 minutes on the bench. Later in the season, coach Jim Boylen resorted to bringing Nevill off the bench to keep him out of early foul trouble.

Some people fear eliminating the foul-out rule would increase the overall number of fouls. But if everyone knows that every foul starting with a player's fifth will result in two shots AND the ball for your opponent, you are not going to want to let any of your players get five fouls. However, at least a coach could leave his player in the game with two first-half fouls and deal with five fouls if it ever came to that.

One big advantage I can see to Vitale's idea would be the equaling of the playing field a little more and helping the underdogs in college basketball.

The better teams such as Kansas, Memphis, North Carolina and UCLA, which all made the Final Four this year, have such deep benches they can run nine or 10 different players at you and hardly miss a beat. If a starter gets in foul trouble, they grab another McDonald's all-American off the bench. But most teams aren't blessed with deep benches and they suffer when a star player must go to the bench early.

There's one last advantage to the eliminating the foul-out rule.

We can get rid of those obnoxious chants from student sections when an opposing player fouls out and they yell, "left, right, left, right," as the player walks toward the bench, punctuated by a loud "sit down" when the player finally sits down. That may have been cute 10 or 15 years ago when it first started, but got old a long time ago.


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