The Football Bowl Subdivision should have independent medical observers across the board with the power to stop a game for evaluation in the event of head trauma, a veteran medical professional has told officials with the NCAA, College Football Playoff and Bowl Season.
In memos obtained by CBS Sports, NFL and Big 12 medical observer Rod Walters offered his services to help establish such a system for major college football. Walters has his own sports medicine consulting firm and has 27 years’ experience as a hall of fame collegiate trainer.
In 2015, the NFL began allowing medical observers to stop a game from the press box if they observed head trauma. That same year, Walters was hired by the Big 12 to train, monitor and assign medical observers. Various conferences use medical observers to different degrees, but there is no overarching process used by all FBS leagues.
“If they would say, ‘We’re going to do it,’ and they would say, ‘Rod, put together a protocol,’ we could do that in a matter of time,” Walters told CBS Sports. “Let’s just say we’re going to have a universal plan. That’s what we need.”
Walters was motivated to write his memos after watching Utah quarterback Cameron Rising suffer an injury Saturday in the 2022 Rose Bowl. Rising was knocked out of the game with an apparent head injury. Walters said Rising presented a “fencing posture” that is an indication of an acute concussive injury.
Rising’s injury status has not been updated by Utah, but on Monday, he tweeted that he was “doing well” and “home with family”.
Walters said there is an “inconsistent manner of coverage by medical observers at bowl games”. The observers in those games, he added, are not neutral because they are “mostly provided” by participating schools.
Nick Carparelli, executive director of Bowl Season, had no comment.
Walters told both the College Football Playoff and Bowl Season that he would be available to implement such a system, ultimately assigning “medical observers to all games with FBS participants”.
“I think the medical observer is a pretty good concept, but we have a lot of healthcare people on the sidelines,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. “We have officials that are trained professionals. … [But] the idea that somebody is going to see from the press box that hasn’t seen it from the sidelines or hasn’t experienced it as a teammate [is hard to imagine].
“It’s hard to push back on medical stuff like this, but it might be a little bit of overkill.”
The memos went to Carparelli, CFP executive director Bill Hancock and Steve Shaw, secretary-editor of the NCAA Rules Committee.