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NCAA committee pushing ejection for targeting defenseless players


In its ongoing effort to improve the on-field safety of its players, the NCAA Football Rules Committee has taken a rather significant step to further prevent the targeting of defenseless players.

Among a laundry list of new proposals, the committee announced Wednesday that it is pushing forward a rule that, if passed, would “eject players who target and contact defenseless players above the shoulders.”  The penalty for targeting, which was first implemented in 2008, will still be 15 yards, but will also carry a semi-automatic ejection that could bleed into the next game.

If a player is ejected for targeting in the second half, that player would miss both the rest of that game as well as the first half of the next game.  A first-half ejection for targeting would not cost a player playing time the next game.

While the effort to increase player safety will, for the most part, be applauded, there is already concern/consternation over the definition of targeting.  Specifically, there is concern over officials, who are by and large human beings like the rest of us, maintaining some level of consistency as to what targeting actually entails.  The NCAA defines it as follows:

Rule 9-1-3 — No player shall target and initiate contact against an opponent with the crown (top) of his helmet.
Rule 9-1-4 — No player shall target and initiate contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent with the helmet, forearm, elbow or shoulder.

In suspending Ole Miss freshman defensive back Trae Elston and South Carolina defensive back D.J. Swearinger in back-to-back weeks last September, the SEC cited those very bylaws from the NCAA’s Football Rule Book.  Swearinger was flagged on the play in question, while Elston wasn’t.  Because of the inconsistency with which officiating crews from even the same conference view targeting, the NCAA is taking an additional step in an attempt to create some type of fairness for what could be a very punitive measure:

The committee has also decided, in an effort to address concerns when one of these plays is erroneously called, to make the ejection portion of the penalty reviewable through video replay. The replay official must have conclusive evidence that a player should not be ejected to overturn the call on the field.

Individual conferences will continue to maintain the right to mete out additional punishment they deem necessary or justified.

“The general consensus is that the officials on the field make this call properly the vast majority of the time and know what the committee is looking for with this foul,” said Rogers Redding, secretary-editor of the rules committee and national coordinator of officials for College Football Officiating, LLC. “This move is being made to directly change player behavior and impact player safety.”

In discussing “measures to remove targeting… [that] will improve our great sport,” Troy Calhoun, chair of the committee and head coach at Air Force, said in a statement that “[w]e all have a role to embrace when making a positive impact on our game.”

It should be noted that this issue, as well as the ones coming below, are merely proposals at the moment and must still be reviewed by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel.  That panel will meet March 6 to conduct the review.

The PROP will also consider the following next month:

— To add a 10-second runoff with less than a minute remaining in either half when the sole reason for the clock to stop is an injury.

(Note: in other words, this proposal will encourage teams with the lead to fake injuries to drain the clock?  Yep, got it.)

— To establish three seconds as the minimum amount of time required to be on the game clock in order to spike the ball to stop the clock. If one or two seconds remain on the clock, there is only time for the offense to run one more play.

(Note: why the committee would feel the need to address this issue in any way, shape or form is beyond is head-scratching, unless it’s merely to save Les Miles from his inner Mad Hatter Clock Manager.)

— To require a player that changes numbers during the game to report this to the referee, who will announce this.

(Note: this will be forever known as the “Lane Kiffin Rule” and that is spectacular on several levels.)

— To only allow one player number to be worn by the same team and participate at the same position (e.g., two quarterbacks on the same team are not allowed to have the same number).

— To require teams to have either their jersey or pants contrast in color to the playing field.

(Note: this will likely be referred to as the “Boise State Rule.” If passed, this would preclude the Broncos from wearing their all-blue uniforms on the famed/infamous Smurf Turf. Upon their “return” from the Big East to the Mountain West, the MWC had decided to allow that uniform combination after previously banning it.)

— To allow the use of electronic communication by the on-field officiating crew after successful experimentation by the Southeastern Conference. This is not a required piece of equipment but will allow officiating crews to use this tool.

–To allow the Big 12 Conference to experiment with using an eighth official on the field in conference games. This official would be placed in the backfield opposite the referee.

–To allow instant replay to adjust the clock at the end of each quarter. Previously this provision was only in place for the end of each half.

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32 Responses to “NCAA committee pushing ejection for targeting defenseless players”
  1. jonkybon says: Feb 13, 2013 4:32 PM

    Too little too late as the worst offender, Swearinger, has already declared for the NFL draft. Not only should they eject these thugs, but suspend their coaches as well.

  2. 49ersgiants4life says: Feb 13, 2013 4:41 PM

    So what happens when a defender drops his head and breaks his neck because the receiver is lowering his head or coming down from going of for the ball? Player safety really means offensive player safety and defensive players get screwed

  3. scalpemseminoles says: Feb 13, 2013 4:51 PM

    the problem with these rules is that they’re too subjective. Nigel Bradham was ejected from the miami fsu game last year because he hit too hard. not a helmet to helmet, not on a defenseless player, but because he hit too hard. incidental contact doesn’t matter in these rules either. and the rule says no shoulder hitting. what is that about? how are you going to knock them down as they touch the ball? too many rules are killing this sport. the nfl is considering doing away with kickoffs now. i wonder how long before the idiot ncaa takes up that thought? football without kickoffs isn’t football

  4. timh1955 says: Feb 13, 2013 5:46 PM

    Why don’t they just go to flag or touch football!!

  5. Deb says: Feb 13, 2013 6:07 PM

    On the “Boise State Rule,” wouldn’t it just be simpler to require schools to have green fields?

    And when it comes to ejections, why not just eject the player for the remainder of the game? I don’t really see how you “eject” a player for the first half of his next game. That isn’t an ejection–it’s a suspension. And as others have said, sometimes deciding what is or isn’t a dirty hit is a very subjective business. 49ersgiants4life is right. Most of these rules are written for the benefit of offensive players. How many times have we seen those same offensive players target the knees of defensive players without even drawing a flag? Where are the “ejections” for those hits?

  6. bigdinla says: Feb 13, 2013 6:17 PM


    Fields cost millions, uniforms cost a lit less.

  7. Deb says: Feb 13, 2013 6:58 PM

    @bigdinla …

    I just hate that field LOL

  8. alligatorsnapper says: Feb 13, 2013 7:24 PM

    These rules as well as others being considered seem to give advantage to the offenses at the expense of the defense. Subjectiveness already brings many questionable calls, and this rule would bring more.

    Maybe we won’t have football (at least the way I played it and most today grew up with) too many more decades due to the “sissyfied” rules being instituted now and considered for the future.

  9. pipesmokin says: Feb 13, 2013 7:39 PM

    See no reason to give a game suspension,just make it more yardage.What about the bad hit in the NC that should been called against Alabama.NCAA should start looking at that first.Start by giving the refs a fine for giving the NC away

  10. Deb says: Feb 13, 2013 7:51 PM

    @pipesmokin …

    Like I said … you’re the soul of objectivity when it comes to Bama. Yes, the refs just handed Bama a 42-14 win. But it was kind of Notre Dame to give them so much help.

    What’s in that pipe anyway? You know that stuff’s still illegal in most states, right? ROFL

  11. timh1955 says: Feb 13, 2013 8:04 PM


    What hit in the NC game???? There were not any disputed or questionable hits/tackles in that game! Did you even watch it??

  12. pipesmokin says: Feb 13, 2013 8:14 PM

    @ deb

    Its legal in Bama,cops always letting Bama players get away.Calloway 2011

    What you put in your pipe.HAHA

  13. pipesmokin says: Feb 13, 2013 8:18 PM

    @ timh

    Say one word wrong about Bama and you fans are like the roaches that come out at night in your house.
    DEB,did you get your degree from Bama,this not being a compliment but you seem a notch ahead of these other bama folks.

  14. bertenheim says: Feb 13, 2013 8:27 PM

    Leading with the helmet might be marginalized if ESPN and the rest of the media would vilify it instead of glorifying it.

  15. Deb says: Feb 13, 2013 8:46 PM

    @pipesmokin …

    My degree is from Mizzou, which I chose for the journalism program. But other relatives have degrees from Bama and they’re pretty smart cookies. What team do you support?

    And seriously … you don’t want to be a Bama player who screws up like these guys. The fanbase comes down on you like fire and brimstone. Those kids are probably getting death threats for embarrassing the program.

  16. mogogo1 says: Feb 13, 2013 8:52 PM

    Problem with the targeting rule is you’ll see guys getting ejected for routine tackles. Until the refs can figure out that “hard hit” is a different animal than “illegal hit” this is doomed to failure.

    And the replay review of ejections is laughable. They suspended guys erroneously this past season for plays that were in no way illegal but were just hard hits. (Plays that didn’t even draw a flag on the field.) Don’t pretend they’re going to overturn a call when they can’t even figure it out given days to review the tape.

  17. pipesmokin says: Feb 13, 2013 9:14 PM

    @ timh

    My apology.
    It was in the SEC Championship game against Georgia, A Murray
    Bama cheaters

  18. Deb says: Feb 13, 2013 9:15 PM

    @mogogo1 …

    Absolutely! We’re going to have the same lunacy in the NCAA that we’ve had for the last three years in the NFL–only worse because instead of fines we’ll have key defensive players being thrown out of games. The last person college football rulesmakers should be emulating is Roger Goodell.

  19. timh1955 says: Feb 13, 2013 9:16 PM


    So a bad hit is cheating???

  20. Deb says: Feb 13, 2013 9:22 PM

    @pipesmokin …

    Well, if you’d been posting on CFT then, you’d have seen me and a lot of other Bama fans ranting that Dial should have been flagged and ejected for that hit. Players make dirty hits. It’s not “cheating”–it’s cheap shot. And it deserves to be flagged. But the officials didn’t flag it–presumably because they didn’t see it. They’ve had no problem flagging our guys for any other infractions. Fortunately, Murray wasn’t injured, immediately jumped up, and continued playing.

    Last year in the Bama/LSU game, Tyrann Mathieu threw a dirty hit from behind on our corner Dre Kirkpatrick during a return that left Kirkpatrick unconscious on the field for several minutes. He had to leave the game and wound up with a concussion. He was flagged, but he wasn’t ejected or suspended. It’s football. As a rule, players are flagged at the time of the infraction and that’s the end of it.

  21. thekatman says: Feb 13, 2013 9:30 PM

    The Targeting rule will be misused so much, it won’t matter. Some teams get hit with that BS penalty more than others only becasue they have a hard hitting defense or Special Teams players.

    There’s no reason why the penalty should be called when a defensive back hits a receiver in the air. If the NCAA doesn’t like it, then tell the OC’s not to allow their QBs to throw the ball up high.

    If a receiver comes down to the ground and bends his knees as he’s being hit, this changes the hitting zone and the defensive player gets hit with a 15 yard penalty That is wrong. The rule needs to be rewritten if it is to be enforce properly.

  22. thekatman says: Feb 13, 2013 9:31 PM

    The Targeting rule will be misused so much, it won’t matter. Some teams get hit with that BS penalty more than others only becasue they have a hard hitting defense or Special Teams players.

    There’s no reason why the penalty should be called when a defensive back hits a receiver in the air. If the NCAA doesn’t like it, then tell the OC’s not to allow their QBs to throw the ball up high.

    If a receiver comes down to the ground and bends his knees as he’s being hit, this changes the hitting zone and the defensive player gets hit with a 15 yard penalty That is wrong. The rule needs to be rewritten if it is to be enforced properly.

  23. pipesmokin says: Feb 13, 2013 9:47 PM


    So a bad hit is cheating???


    Lower your helmet to hurt or take out a player yes i call that a cheat and a dirty player.

  24. timh1955 says: Feb 13, 2013 10:13 PM

    Its a cheap shot and its wrong but there were also cheap shots taken by Georgia that weren’t called. That doesn’t mean they were cheating.

  25. pipesmokin says: Feb 13, 2013 10:41 PM

    @ timh

    You seen my proof above with lowering the head before the hit.Show me where Georgia made cheap shots.By the way are you a Bama fan ?

  26. Deb says: Feb 13, 2013 10:42 PM

    pipesmokin …

    You still haven’t said what team you support. I never understand why people come on these blogs to post rants on every article about certain teams, like Bama, but they’re not willing to reveal what dog they have in the hunt. I’m a Bama fan, so if I’m ranting on Auburn threads, everyone knows where my bias lies … except I don’t do that. And I’m a diehard Steelers fan, so if I’m slamming the Ravens, everyone would know why … except I don’t do that, either. If you want to throw the mud, you should be willing to state your own allegiance instead of trying to pretend an objectivity you obviously don’t have.

  27. Deb says: Feb 13, 2013 11:10 PM

    Oh, and pipesmokin …

    It was one hit. Like I said, it should have been flagged and wasn’t. You’ll see dozens of hits like that on any given Saturday, some that are flagged and some that aren’t. In that game, Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree threw a late helmet-to-helmet hit on Bama QB A.J. McCarron, but the ref saw it and it was flagged. Otherwise, Gary Danielson might have talked about that hit for the rest of the game like he did the Dial hit.

    If you’ve watched more than five minutes of football in your life, you know guys going overboard and throwing late or cheap hits happens. I threw a hissy fit when Tyrann Mathieu did it to Kirkpatrick, too. But I didn’t claim Les Miles and LSU were cheating or that they shouldn’t have won the game–which was even closer than this one–because that would have been idiotic.

  28. bertenheim says: Feb 14, 2013 12:26 PM

    Leading with the helmet is wrong, stupid, and obvious. And if a guy wasn’t taught to wrap-up and run through, he deserves to get burned on the play.

  29. kozbee says: Feb 14, 2013 12:58 PM

    There are different forms of cheating imo.Im not sticking up for any side but when you lower the helmet to take out a player and this can put a player in a wheelchair and better the odds for your team to win yes i would also call it cheating in a way.I don`t care what sport it is soccer basketball whatever when you are using ways to better your team its cheating.Bad sportsmanship is not needed in any sport.A chopblock is a bad hit but a form of taking a player out to better your team,thats cheating.Chopblock i used as an example.Anytime you try to better the odds yes it is cheating.Just moved in my new house in South Carolina and got my cable hooked up,going to watch some tube.

  30. pipesmokin says: Feb 14, 2013 3:02 PM

    @ Deb

    You say a ref may not of seen it,go back to the video and see the ref on top after the hit.How much i wonder did Saban pay the ref for the no flag.Georgia should of won that day.That ref gave Bama the win that day.

  31. Deb says: Feb 14, 2013 3:43 PM

    @pipesmokin …

    And your team is … ??? LOL

  32. timh1955 says: Feb 14, 2013 5:43 PM


    Are you frigging kidding me???? That one play gave Georgia the game? This is coming from someone that didn’t even know which game it happened in! And do you think Saban is stupid enough to jeopardize his career by paying a ref?? You may want to think about your comments before you put them in writing.

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