View replay before ejecting players for targeting

This hit by Florida safety Cody Riggs led to a targeting call and his ejection from Saturday's game against Missouri. (AP)

This hit by Florida safety Cody Riggs led to a targeting call and his ejection from Saturday's game against Missouri.

College football needs to figure out a way to fix the targeting rule.

I respect what the sport has done to protect players, keeping them from leading with their helmets to cut down on the risk of concussions and other injuries, but the game is so fast and furious, the refs can’t tell the difference between a shove or a clean tackle or leading with a shoulder and a crushing, helmet-to-helmet blow.

Example 1

Georgia DE Ray Drew’s push of Vanderbilt QB Austyn Carta-Samuels on Saturday.

Drew was flagged for targeting when he knocked down Carta-Samuels, but he clearly wasn’t attempting to injure him. And I’m not even sure that hit could be called roughing the quarterback since the ball had just been released. Drew was penalized and ejected, but he will be able to play against Florida on Nov. 2 because the ejection was in the first half.

Example 2

Ohio State CB Bradley Roby’s jarring tackle against Iowa sparked his ejection, even though he didn’t target the head or neck area, never left his feet and doesn’t appear to make contact with Iowa TE C.J. Fiedorowicz’s head, although it’s tough to tell.

Said Ohio State coach Urban Meyer: “That was not the intent of the rule. That play ‑‑ I can say that without, I’m sure, getting in trouble. That rule was not put for that play. … We teach them to get your pads down, hit with your shoulder pads.”

Decide for yourself. You can view both hits here.

Those ejections were just two of several throughout the country.

Those included players in three SEC upsets — Vanderbilt over Georgia, Tennessee over South Carolina (Gamecocks S Kadetrix Marcus was ejected) and Missouri over Florida (Gators S Cody Riggs was ejected). Georgia LB Ramik Wilson also was flagged for targeting, but wasn’t ejected after replay.

And no, I’m not saying the outcomes of those games would have been different if those players would have been allowed to continue playing, only that all the hits were remarkably different but interpreted the same.

There were so many targeting penalties, the SEC handed out a reminder of Rule 9-1-4: “No player shall target and initiate CONTACT TO THE HEAD OR NECK areas of a defenseless opponent with the helmet, forearm, hand, fist, elbow OR SHOULDER. By rule, when in question, it is a foul.”

“Also note that a replay official must have indisputable video evidence that there was no such contact to overturn the call on the field.”

Again, it’s important to protect the players, but it’s also vital to protect the integrity of the game.

If ejection is what’s needed to make the point, then the rule needs to be changed to where the refs watch the replay before deciding to throw a player out of a game.

The way it’s currently set up is ludicrous, especially when replay shows the ejection is unwarranted, but the 15-yard penalty is still assessed, as in Wilson’s case. If there’s no ejection, there shouldn’t be a penalty.

Steve Shaw, the coordinator of football officials for the SEC, said some interesting things Monday night (reported by AL.com), including:

“I hope we can get the rules committee to look very, very closely at this. Now, if you’re guilty of a targeting foul but instant replay overturns it, the 15-yard penalty stands. I think we need to look at that and consider removing that as well. The reason it didn’t get removed is because the rules committee does not want the game to be officiated from the replay booth. We’ve been careful not to cross over the line.”

If college football wants to get this right, then replay might be the only way to solve it.

16 comments Add your comment

[...] View replay before ejecting players for targeting [...]

gbal

October 24th, 2013
10:16 am

“The reason it didn’t get removed is because the rules committee does not want the game to be officiated from the replay booth. We’ve been careful not to cross over the line.”

What a bonehead statement. We go tho the replay booth to review fumbles, touchdowns, step out of bounds, a catch or not, interference, …. heck even to review targeting….. it wouldn’t prevent officiating from the booth to say if the targeting is overturned (by the replay booth) the player is not ejected and there is no penalty enforced?

[...] Shaw joined the teleconference in the wake of the four targeting penalties that were called in SEC games on Saturday. [...]

FrankC3

October 22nd, 2013
3:40 pm

I am 74 years old and played high school FB when a very few face masks (probably no more than 2 or 3 per team) were beginning to be used. I never had one. However, tacklers led with their shoulder, not their helmet. Leading with your helmet would have endangered your face. But that’s no longer true with EVERY player having a face mask.

Should face masks be banned? That would probably accomplish what the targeting rule is trying to address. But there probably are players participating with some injuries which justify wearing a mask.

Also, in helmet to helmet contact, isn’t the player initiating the contact in about as much danger of a concussion as the player being hit? No one seems to be as concerned about that.

HotDawg

October 22nd, 2013
2:40 pm

Jeez, just read who was on committee.
A bunch of pansy-ass liberals (come on, Fairleigh Dickinson college??!!) that have nothing in common with major college football.

FarTrain

October 22nd, 2013
1:59 pm

Thanks AJ, for clearing that up. I think the article I read last week was on Yahoo Sports(which explains the error), but in all fairness there are 6 coaches on the committee, albeit from smaller schools. That was a good article you referenced, by the way.