From the state of Mr. Integrity In Athletics himself, University of Connecticut men’s basketball coach Jim Calhoun, comes a new rule for high school football that compels us to stand in awe of its sheer absurdity.

According to a story by the Associated Press, the football committee of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, which governs high school sports, is adopting a “score management” policy that will suspend coaches whose teams win by more than 50 points.

A rout is considered an unsportsmanlike infraction and the coach of the offending team will be disqualified from coaching the next game, according to Tony Mosa, assistant executive director of the Cheshire-based conference.

“We were concerned with any coach running up the game. There’s no need for it,” Mosa told the Associated Press. “This is something that we really have been discussing for the last couple of years. There were a number of games that were played where the difference of scores were 60 points or more. It’s not focused on any one particular person.”

Most within Connecticut prep football circles, however, aren’t buying that one, for already the rule has been called the “Jack Cochran rule,” after the New London High School football coach, whose teams had four wins of more than 50 points last year.

According to the AP, in New London’s 60-0 rout of Tourtelotte/Ellis Tech, Cochran enraged the Tourtelotte bench by calling a timeout just before halftime. Tourtelotte’s coach was then arrested on breach of peace charges after police say he struck a security guard and an assistant New London coach.

So who should be suspended? Eddie Haskel who’s running up the score, or Hannibal Lecter who’s getting medieval on a security guard?

First of all, since we sometimes find ourselves here in the middle of the Arena of the Absurd during any given fall high school football season, we’ve all seen 50-point routs that were not 50-point routs on purpose, but we’ve all seen our share that were.

I would agree with Mosa that there is no need for it when a little Vince wannabe purposely runs up the score on another team. Although I must be honest with you, I laughed out loud when former Philadelphia Eagles coach Buddy Ryan said before the game he was going to do it and then did it to Tom Landry and the Dallas Cowboys several years back. But that was different. Anything that had to do with Buddy Ryan struck me as funny, and anytime the Cowboys of those days got their noses rubbed in it, it always brought great joy to my household.

Still, we’re talking high school here and anytime a football coach still experiencing arrested development chooses to purposely humiliate another team, it’s wrong. But how can you punish a guy for being a moron? Isn’t it punishment enough that this guy is willing to go out in public and humiliate kids while, at the same time, wearing a head set and a pair of polyester Bike coaching shorts pulled up to his armpits?

Sure it’s punishment. It’s punishment to everybody but the coach in question because he’s too dense to know the difference.

(And as a public service to otherwise decent folks who won’t part with their polyester coaching shorts, part with them. Please. As my friend Jabba and I were discussing the other day, the 1980s weren’t kind to football coaches fashion-wise.)

At the same time, as far as running up the score is concerned, wrong as it is to do on purpose, it’s still something that’s going to happen honestly from time to time. For instance, there were at least two teams in Greenway Avenue Stadium last fall that were capable of just one thing and that was picking up the check the home team promised it if it would come to town to be served to the lions. Of course, that doesn’t make the kids on the losing team feel any better (unless the appearance fee is paid in cash and there is one heck of a fun bus ride back home), but football is a tough game.

Now where it really gets stupid in Connecticut is there have been proposals made to adopt a mercy rule in high school football, such as the 35-point rule that many states, including Maryland, have adopted. The only problem is the Connecticut committee has rejected those proposals because members thought it would unfairly cut into backups’ playing time.

Hello? How is putting backups into a game in the second and third quarter, then telling them to take a knee for the rest of the game enhancing their playing time?

I swear I really don’t pull the wings off of butterflies, although you’d have a hard time convincing losing pitchers in little league baseball games of that. I am, after all, a Democrat. Still, Connecticut’s new “score management” policy is nothing more than a direct descendant of the participation trophy, which, since its inception, has done nothing but oversensitize the atmosphere and dumb down the true spirit of competition in youth and high school sports.

Mike Burke is sports editor of the Cumberland Times-News. Write to him at mburke@times-news.com.

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