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SEC To Ask NCAA Rules Committee To Revisit Targeting Rule

college-football-officials-talkingThat new targeting rule that has perplexed and provoked college football fans, coaches and administrators this season?  Yeah.  The SEC is going to ask the NCAA to look into it.

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.

 


5 comments
5LittlePiggies
5LittlePiggies

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).  

xmego9
xmego9

I suppose you can have "unnecessary roughness" without targeting so just have the penalty default to that if the ejection is overruled.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@5LittlePiggies 

The idea -- like it or not -- is to err on the side of player safety.  After the Big Ten meetings this year, it was acknowledged that Big Ten officials would be told, "When in doubt, throw 'em out."

The problem is that the "targeting" rule isn't clearly defined.  Are accidental hits targeting or is intent necessary?  I would say that "targeting" by definition require intent.  But read the rule and it's just not clear... which we said all summer long and which we're all seeing play out now.

Thanks for reading,

John

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

@xmego9 

In one of the Georgia penalties -- the one in which Ramik Wilson's ejection was overturned -- the player his his opponent in the chest with his shoulder.  It was a legal hit in every sense, not even "unnecessary roughness.

Not trying to be argumentative, just pointing out how tough to call this rule really is.

Thanks for reading,

John

5LittlePiggies
5LittlePiggies

@John at MrSEC @5LittlePiggies Thanks for clearing that up, John.  I thought it was a blanket statement about penalties, not just the targeting rule.  I'm definitely in favor of player safety in the case of targeting.  I understand that they don't want to open up Pandora's Box on all penalties, but there are special cases in all rule books.  Make the "targeting" rule one of these special cases.  Throw the flag, automatically review, and if it's determined to be a legal hit after the review, then pick up the flag and move on.  No harm, no foul.  As long as they clearly defined what targeting is (player lowers head, launches himself against defenseless player, helmet to helmet contact, etc.) then there shouldn't be a problem.  Just make targeting the only reviewable penalty.  I enjoy reading your site!

-Eric

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