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.
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.
If that is targeting at Vandy, then I am giving up Titos. What an awful rule!!!!!
— Mike Pereira (@MikePereira) October 19, 2013
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.