Shaw said, "...when in question, the book says put the marker on the ground." What is the rationale behind that? It should be the other way around. When in doubt, keep your laundry in your pants. It should be CLEARLY a penalty before the flag hits the turf. That should be the beginning of the rule book changes. Even if one game is decided on a questionable call, and there have been, that is too many. I would rather see no flag if it's in doubt, then when officials review questionable calls throughout the week, if they see a play that clearly is defined as "targeting," then suspend the player for the next game. Seems to work in the NFL (if they would quit reducing suspensions).
As you know by now, there were a pair of questionable targeting calls in last Saturday’s Georgia/Vanderbilt game. Georgia officials spoke to SEC coordinator of officials Steve Shaw. And Steve Shaw said yesterday that Mike Slive’s league will ask the NCAA — after the season – to take another look at the rule and its implementation:
“Even our commissioner has serious reservations about the penalty philosophy around targeting fouls when they’re overturned. He and I have talked. He’s challenged me, and together we’re going to work with the rules committee to revisit the penalty if a disqualification is overturned for targeting.”
According to The Athens Banner-Herald, six of the 14 targeting penalties handed down in the SEC this year have had the player ejection overturned. Still, those teams lost 15 yards in penalty yardage even though a booth official didn’t think the player in question actually targeted a foe. (Targeted, of course, implies intent, but the rule can be interpreted a half-dozen different ways… which is part of the problem.)
As we told you earlier this week, if the NCAA does decide to allow a booth official to overrule a field official’s opinion with his own, it will be a major change in NCAA policy. So says Shaw as well:
“Do we want replay to kind of cross over that line to say, OK, we’re going to overturn the disqualification but we still think it was roughing the passer? That would be a huge leap within our replay…
We can’t guess. We can’t think it might have been. We’ve got to see it, know it’s a foul before we put the marker on the ground, but these things happen in a split second and so when in question, the book says put the marker on the ground.”
And if you begin to overturn those with replay, one of two things will happen. Referees will feel protected and start throwing more targeting flags knowing that the eye in the sky can reverse them. Or officials will get a bit more gunshy, not wanting to have call after call corrected by a booth official.
Reversing a judgement call is not the best answer because it’s really just trading one man’s opinion for another’s. It won’t be long until someone suggests interference and holding calls be reviewed. If you ever get to that point, get ready for a 5-hour football game.
When it comes to the targeting rule, it’s proven to be just as vague, just as open to interpretation, and therefore just as controversial as most suspected when it was introduced this summer.