This fall, the NCAA will implement a new targeting rule in college football designed to protect defenseless players from cheap shots and dangerous hits. Lead with the crown of the helmet? You could be tossed from a game. Deliver a blow above a defenseless player’s shoulders? You could be tossed from a game.
There’s nothing wrong with trying to protect college athletes. However, the new targeting rule will give officials one more bang-bang judgement call to make between the white lines (and officials probably are not thrilled with about that).
During Auburn’s spring game, defensive back Jonathon Mincy delivered a forearm blow to above the shoulders of receiver Dimitri Reese. He was pitched from the A-Day Game in an effort to prepare players for the new rule.
In the fall, officials will review vicious hits before ejecting a player from a game. If that had been done during Auburn’s spring game, Mincy might have been allowed to remain on the field. Still, the fact that the play looked different on tape than it did in live action provides a clue as to just how difficult this rule will be to call… and just how controversial it might whenever it’s cited.
Tiger defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson opened up about Mincy’s hit and the new rule yesterday:
“It wasn’t dirty, but it was illegal. Anytime you’re leaving your feet and you get up above the shoulders you’re probably going to get that call…
The new rule, I don’t know if it’s appropriate or not, but it’s real stiff. It’s not just a personal foul, it’s ejections. It can cost you a whole game of half of one and half of another…
When the ball goes off a receiver’s hand, they’re going to allow very little contact. If you have contact and you follow through on it, you’re in danger of getting a penalty.”
Great. I personally can’t wait for the first wave of emails claiming that Player X was only ejected from a game because the SEC office “hates” the team he plays for. Ugh, and those super-slow motion, homemade YouTube clips showing that a player’s head went back and to the left… back and to the left… back… and to the left. I already feel a sense of dread.
Protecting players = Good.
More judgement calls on the field = Bad.
But unfortunately, it looks like we’ll all have to put up with the latter to ensure the former.