Former SEC official offers opinion on Devin White hit, how review process unfolded
Aside from the SEC commissioner’s office, there may not be a more interesting opinion on the controversial Devin White hit that was whistled for targeting than from a former SEC official.
Dean Waite, a former SEC official who graduated from the University of Georgia with an undergraduate and law degrees, who now practices law in Mobile, Alabama, has explained his opinion. Waite officiated SEC games from 2007-10.
Waite recently told AL.com that he would have handled the review process differently about White being ejected for targeting Mississippi State QB Nick Fitzgerald.
“I’m OK with the call on the field live,” Waite said of the White penalty. “It looked enough like it that I’m OK with it being called. I think when they looked at it, however, they should’ve taken the call away.”
Waite then explained how the rule is interpreted from the rulebook.
“You definitely have a defenseless player,” he said. “He was in the act of throwing or just got finished throwing, so he was a defenseless player. Basically, the rule says you can’t target or make forceable contact with the head or neck area of a defenseless player with the helmet. It even includes the forearm, hand, fist, elbow, shoulder, anything. You just can’t go to the head or neck area.”
In Waite’s opinion, there wasn’t enough there to constitute an ejection.
“In order to call a foul, you have to have to one element or indicator of targeting,” he said. “Some of those indicators are a launch, lowering the head before making contact. What I saw, on replay, was a guy going in. He did lead with his forearms, but what he did was he hit the guy in the chest with his forearm. I didn’t see any effort to hit in the neck or head area. Now, their helmets did wind up making contact a little bit, but that was a result of the shove.”
Though it appeared to Waite that White launched himself.
“It does look like his feet came off the ground,” Waite admitted. “But again, I didn’t see any effort to go to the neck or head area. It just isn’t leaving your feet. You have to be launching to attack your opponent in the head or neck area.”
What has fueled some of the White targeting call backlash was a no-call earlier in the day on Alabama LB Mack Wilson, which Waite agreed with.
“It looks absolutely fine with no call there,” he said. “I didn’t see anything. He didn’t lower his head. I saw a guy keep his helmet up and went squarely in (Jarrett) Guarantano’s chest. Any resulting contact from the helmet was a result of knocking the quarterback’s helmet down. That was right in the chest to me. I’m absolutely fine with no call there, even live.”
If it’s not already clear, given the discussion of the last few days, targeting calls are among the toughest for officials to call, Waite said.
“These officials do a tremendous job week in and week out,” Waite said. “Targeting is, in my opinion, the toughest call to make from the field and in the replay booth. I think we’re seeing that with some of the inconsistent rulings from week to week. But, they’re all working as hard as they can to get it right. I can assure you of that.”