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, 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

Andy Johnston

October 22nd, 2013
1:46 pm

There are only two FBS coaches on the 12-person rules committee. You can see the entire committee here, but some of them, like Todd Berry, might not have been on the committee when this rule was enacted last winter:

Andy Johnston

October 22nd, 2013
1:42 pm

I dropped my fried twinkie — The hits are reviewed after the players are ejected. The review can allow the player to stay in the game. I’m saying they could change the rule to allow the officials to review the play before deciding if it warrants an ejection. If no ejection, penalty is waived off, unless it’s roughing QB, etc.


October 22nd, 2013
1:41 pm

HotDawg, if what I read in an article last week is correct, then the rules committee is made up entirely of college coaches. I read they were responsible for this new rule being instituted during the off season. That really surprised me.

I dropped my fried twinkie

October 22nd, 2013
1:22 pm

They are REVIEWED…………….


October 22nd, 2013
12:03 pm

The loss of Ray Drew, arguably UGA’s best defensive players was a big deal and had an impact on the game. Maybe it was a roughing the passer penalty but certainly not targeting. But, before Drew hit the QB the ref had already pulled his flag out presumably to flag a holding penalty against Vanderbilt. Why didn’t he flag both penalties? Ramik Wilsons hit clearly was not targeting. Nothing else to say about that. So, the ejection of Drew and targeting penalty of Wilson certainly hurt the Dawgs but didn’t cost them the game. I witnessed a dropped punt by Swan, a snap over the punter’s head and a fake Vanderbilt field goal attempt for a touchdown. I also watched the most horrendous play calling by Mike Bobo ever. How many times did we run the strong side dive play unsuccessfully? 20+ times. How many times did we throw the ball downfield? Maybe twice. What happened to our tight ends? They have been missing in action for 3+ games. UGA had 450+ yards against against a good Missouri defense with the same offensive personnel. No excuse!


October 22nd, 2013
12:03 pm

Football is not even football anymore…..sad, but true


October 22nd, 2013
11:59 am

Who are these faceless people on rules committee????


October 22nd, 2013
11:55 am

Where is common sense anymore?
These “one size fits all” rules in society is ridiculous.
Majority of these hits were not guilty of breaking spirit of the rule.


October 22nd, 2013
11:54 am

“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.”

That’s already the case. What needs to be fixed is the retaining of the 15 yard penalty when replay determines that there was no foul.

Also, head to head contact isn’t required for a targeting foul to have occurred.


October 22nd, 2013
11:41 am

Andy J.,
I will say the Ramik Wilson hit (that was reversed after video showed it was a clean hit) that did not reverse the penalty, DID change the outcome of GA game.
Not Reversing a penalty after reviewing and confirming a clean hit is the most absurd aspect of this rule.