Adjustment to the targeting rule could result in fewer ejections starting in 2017
Arguably the least understood rule in college football may be getting a little bit more clear in 2017 as the NCAA is considering amending the targeting rule.
As the rule is currently enforced, a player is automatically ejected after being called for targeting. While all targeting calls are reviewed, a player can only return to the game if the targeting replay reverses the call on the field and determines targeting did not occur. The proposed amendment to the rule would not eject a player until after a review is done, and targeting is confirmed. As the rule is called now, players are often ejected despite the lack of video evidence confirming targeting has occurred.
“We still want to the official to throw the flag there,” NCAA associate director Ty Halpin said, according to Jon Solomon of CBS Sports. “But if replay says there’s a little bit of contact on the shoulder and it’s more because the player adjusted and it wasn’t a dangerous attempt by the player delivering the contact, then maybe that player deserves to stay in the game. It’s a reasonable thing to go with.”
Last season, the SEC had the most targeting ejections (26) called in the nation and had only three overturned via replay. In total around the nation, targeting was called 144 times last season. 51 of those calls were overturned via replay.
While the NCAA will argue that targeting has cleaned up the game, and to a large extent it has, the number of times teams are flagged for hits continues to rise. In 2013, the first year targeting was called, refs only threw 31 targeting flags the entire season. Quite a drastic increase between 2013’s 31 flags and last season’s 144.
The amended targeting rule will be voted upon by the NCAA rules committee in early March.