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Refs From Georgia / Vandy Game Could Face Discipline

Those who watched Saturday’s Georgia/Vanderbilt game likely walked away scratching their heads over the NCAA’s new targeting rule.  Twice the officials on hand seemed to be off-base with regards to the spirit of the rule.

At the very least.

Example One: Bulldog linebacker Ramik Wilson made a clean shoulder-to-chest hit on Vandy receiver Jonathan Krause yet was flagged for 15 yards and ejected for targeting.  The booth official “un-ejected” Wilson upon replay review, but 15 yards were still marched off against the Dawgs:


Ramik Wilson lays Big Hit on Vanderbilt Receiver


Example Two: Georgia defensive end Ray Drew was flagged for targeting and ejected for what appears to be an accidental helmet bump of VU quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels’ facemask:


Georgia's Ray Drew Ejected On Worst Targeting Call Ever


Ask a dozen refs if “intent” has anything to do with the NCAA’s new targeting rule and you’ll get a dozen answers.  The fact of the matter seems pretty simple from this front… if the rule is to be called “targeting,” intent has to be present.  You don’t accidentally “target” someone.

But then again, we said all summer that this rule would be a no-win scenario for officials, coaches and players, none of whom seem to view the rule in the same way.  And you can toss in the booth officials as well, as they’ve overturned too many ejections to count.

Quite naturally, Georgia’s Mark Richt and AD Greg McGarity have spoken with SEC coordinator of officials Steve Shaw and “other league administrators” about the two targeting calls that went against them in Saturday’s 31-27 loss.  McGarity told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Chip Towers (one of the SEC’s best reporters, by the way) that UGA follows “protocol” and “conversations that the AD or coach have with the league office are confidential and always verbal.”

Towers points out that SEC officials have their work reviewed on a regular basis.  If the SEC and Shaw come to believe the officials in Nashville last weekend erred, those men could face disciplinary action.  They could be suspended.  They could be let go at the end of the season.  Or they could be passed over when it comes to bowl assignments.

Unfortunately, most officials would probably tell you that they didn’t want the targeting rule changed in the first place.  It’s just another bang-bang judgement call for refs to make, only this one has greater consequences thanks to the ejection portion of the rule.

The idea behind the rule — no head-hunting, player safety — is a sound one.  The wording of the rule is lacking.  The execution has been worse.

We suggest now — as we did last summer — that the NCAA adopt two separate rules to cover this helmet-to-helmet issue.

The rules would cover “launching” and “spearing.”  If we had control of the rule book, here’s how those rules would be written:


Launching:  No player shall launch himself into an opponent with the intent of using his helmet as a weapon or of hitting the opponent above his shoulders.

Spearing:  No player shall dive into an opponent with the intent of using his helmet as a weapon or of hitting the opponent above his shoulders.


Accidental helmet-to-helmet hits would not be flagged because — wait for it — they’re accidental, a la Drew’s hit on Carta-Samuels above.  If the technique is proper there should be no need for a flag, no need for a lesson to be taught.

With those two simple-to-explain rules, officials would have a better idea of when to flag plays and toss players.  Headhunting and reckless play are pretty easy to define.

As it stands, the NCAA’s rule for targeting as well as its implementation figure to become even more controversial as we speed toward November and December.  Imagine the outrage if a play like Wilson’s above were to draw a penalty late in this year’s SEC Championship Game.



It would be interesting to see how many games have their results overturned due to erroneous officiating.

& before somebody harps on the time issue - I'ld rather have a 4-5 hr. game called CORRECTLY than a 2-3 hr. game filled with bad officiating.


As an avid and long time Vanderbilt fan, I will be the first to say that the two targeting calls against Georgia were completely bogus.

I will also say that Vanderbilt fans don't feel to bad for the Dawgs, due to the fact our football program has a full size file cabinet full of "apology" letters from the SEC office for horrible and/or missed calls by officials over the past 3 decades.

Numerous bad, and most times very obvious, calls have gone against Vanderbilt for years upon years. I feel bad for Georgia, their coaches, players, and fans, but this gives them a small taste of what our program has put up with for decades.

Maybe the Dawgs will take the two apology letters they receive, and buy their own file cabinet and label it "SEC Apology Letters". However, it will take years for them or most any other SEC program to fill theirs as full as the one at Vanderbilt's McGugin center.

I and every other Vanderbilt fan know exactly how they feel.


That last penalty against UGA gave Vandy a first down after UGA stopped them on 4th.  It was a game changing play and cost UGA the game.  Sure there were other plays that cost UGA the game too.  But get that call right in real time, and UGA wins.

Wonder how big a deal it would be if something similar cost Bama a shot at a MNC.   We know the SEC didn't suspend Dial last year after the committee recommended a suspension.  


The rule should not be enforced during a game.  If a targeting offense is observed by an official, they should report it to the league office and then the punishment would ensue from the league office by sitting down the player found guilty for a game (or more for a repeat or flagrant offense).  This would give some reasoned judgment to the situation.


This is not a lingo problem. No need to define launching and spearing or "targeting" per se, these are already well covered in the NFL rules (Article 7) and are all PERSONAL FOULS. The problem is the refs are making bad calls not that they don't have a cute name for specific acts.

The origin of the term "launching" was that once defenders had a ball carrier secure, they would jump upward and jam their helmet into the chin of the opponent. There are a large majority of non-rule reading fans (and apparently never played either) that think there is a launching rule that prohibits defenders from leaving their feet to make a hit. Partially because of this the NFL rulebook now refers to "an 'illegal' launch".

The term spearing is similarly sketchy as is was often used to refer t6 a hit in the back when crown hits were legal.

Pretty clear to me: don't initiate contact above the shoulder. If these refs are going to cancel out big hits just because they look violent get them off the field.


The official closest to the play on  Ramik Wilson  did not make the call . The side judge in front of the Vandy bench in front of James Franklin did'. the  AJC  shows a still frame of the clean hit  with the back official  within  10 feet looking directly at the play . (no call).  Now that is what I  call "HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE".

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator


The SEC wasn't going to suspend anyone from an SEC team going into the BCS Championship Game.  If the roles had been reversed the league wouldn't have suspended a player from Georgia, either.  And I'm guessing all other leagues would make the same choice.

That said, this rule is going to cost someone in a bigger game than Georgia/Vandy and it's going to be the controversy to end all controversies.  Poorly written rule.  The officials aren't even clear on what is and what isn't an infraction.  Just a mess.

Thanks for reading the site,


John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator


I disagree that they're all well-covered in the rules.  If they were well-covered in the rules no additional rule for targeting would have been necessary.

Also, you then go on to say that the term "launching" isn't in the rule book and that the definition of spearing is "sketchy."  Again, that's why I wrote that those two new rules should be adopted by the NCAA in place of the harder-to-define "targeting" rule.

But thanks for reading the site,



@John at MrSEC @Mark1984 That's why people believe there is favoritism to those (or that) team(s) at the top.  If they won't suspend a kid for the championship game, then they aren't going to suspend a kid for a game that might keep a team out of the championship game.  It's favoritism at its worst.  With Dial, the committee recommended he be suspended.  But safety only goes so far with the SEC I suppose.  What they are saying is "So long as it doesn't cost us a championship, we'll suspend a kid".  We need some consistency.

Mr. Slive has already indicated that he wants the penalty overturned if the suspension is overturned.  We'll see that even if a bigger game isn't influenced.

I don't buy it about the roles being reversed if UGA was going to the game.  We see it with Bama a lot.  The statistics you quote in other articles often ignore the game changing circumstances with penalties.  At the end of the year, this penalty will just be another stat to look at it, but the timing, and result cost a game.  It's not the same as the one that UGA got earlier with Drew.  Penalties can't be looked at statistically to see bias, IMO.  Look at impact and effect.  Then I will be convinced that the SEC doesn't protect the BCS bound schools, and especially Bama, most of the time.


@John at MrSEC @SportsChatter I was attempting to say the NFL rulebook is clear and all the NCAA had to do was adopt it instead of attempting to reinvent the wheel. That is still the appropriate course of action in my opinion. Adding terminology is part of the problem not the solution


@John at MrSEC John, I saw your post but now I can't find it.  I'll try to clarify... The SEC and the NCAA are about money.  You readily admit in your post that no conference would suspend a kid (i.e. Dial) for the championship game even if he deserved it.  The reason they won't do that, is the same reason they protect that team late in the regular season.  Sometimes, they can't completely do it.  But again, I still wait for a study on game changing penalties instead of hiding behind stats that look at all penalties the same.  They are not all the same.  More likely what we will find is a home field advantage for all teams.  But, until the Dials of the world are suspended, we can all acknowledge the conferences are protecting their champions.


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