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Big Ten’s stance on targeting? ‘When in doubt, throw him out’


The NCAA made it known it was serious about reducing — or, attempting to reduce — head injuries when the Playing Rules Oversight Panel ruled in March that any player flagged for targeting a defenseless player would be automatically ejected from the game.

That rule will apply nationwide beginning this season, and the Big Ten conference is apparently taking it to heart. Tom Dienhart of the Big Ten Network attended a gathering for conference officials on Saturday and noted that the Big Ten’s front office is telling officials to always err on the side of calling the foul.

Targeting penalties will be subject to immediate video review as well as additional review on Mondays, but it seems the only way a player flagged for targeting can avoid ejection and/or suspension is if there’s conclusive video evidence to the contrary.

That could be tough to prove. The new Big Ten stance, as Dienhart reports, is “When in doubt, throw him out.

The decision to eject players for targeting applies to all leagues, the Big Ten just plans on going by an interpretation of the rule that has basically no wiggle room (Dienhart relays that fans should “get ready for ejections” this fall).

Targeting is a judgement call, and the speed of the game makes any judgement call difficult. Now that call carries stiffer consequences. In the Big Ten’s case, it also leans toward throwing the flag not necessarily because it’s the right call, but because the official feels it’s close enough to merit the penalty. To overturn it, the video crew needs to be 100 percent certain the call on the field was wrong.

Good luck with all that.

Report: Duke Williams injured Auburn teammate with punch in ‘bar rampage’

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 29:  D'haquille Williams #1 of the Auburn Tigers misses a touchdown catch in the first quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the Iron Bowl at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 29, 2014 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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D’haquille Williams may have some additional explaining to do to NFL personnel if another report is accurate.

Monday night, Auburn announced that the star wide receiver had been dismissed from Gus Malzahn‘s football program.  A day later, reports surfaced that Williams’ dismissal came after he went on a weekend “bar rampage” following one of his friends getting the heave-ho from a local drinking establishment over a dress-code issue. It was alleged that Williams had punched a pair of security guards, a bartender’s assistant and an unnamed patron of the bar.

The unnamed, however, now has a name.

According to the ABC affiliate in Montgomery, Ala., and a citing a source close to the AU program, Tigers center Xavier Dampeer‘s jaw was on the receiving end of one of Williams’ alleged punches. The website wrote that “Dampeer has been treated and released from East Alabama Medical Center, according to a worker at the hospital.”

Malzahn was asked Tuesday if any other Tiger players were involved in the incident. “I’m not going to get into any details,” the coach said according to

No charges have been filed in connection to the incident.

“We cannot file charges until the injured person(s) comes forward,” Auburn police chief Paul Register told the television station. “Unless an officer personally sees a fight, no arrests can be made.”

Illini’s leading rusher, Josh Ferguson, officially ruled out vs. Iowa

Josh Ferguson, Jordan Italiano
Associated Press
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If Illinois is going to improve upon its solid 4-1 start to the 2015 season, it’ll have to do so without a significant cog in its offensive machinery.

On the official injury report release Thursday night, the Illini confirmed that Josh Ferguson has been ruled out of Saturday’s game against No. 22 Iowa.  The decision is not exactly a surprise as Ferguson has been doubtful in the run-up to the road game against the Hawkeyes.

Ferguson sustained an injury to his right shoulder in the first quarter of last Saturday’s last-second win over Nebraska, and has been unable to practice at all this week.

Ferguson’s 381 rushing yards, three rushing touchdowns and 5.4 yards per carry are all tops on the team.  He’s added 12 receptions for 28 yards and another touchdown coming out of the backfield.

With Ferguson sidelined, the bulk of the running-game load is expected to shift to Ke’Shawn Vaughn.  Through five games, Vaughn is second on the Illini with 325 yards and a pair of touchdowns.