There will always be rule changes in football. However, there is one rule change that could significantly change college football.
It’s called “targeting.” That’s a pretty broad term for the rule. Simply stated, it’s when the defensive player launches his body or uses his elbows or forearms to “target” the head of a defenseless player in an effort to get the big hit — the one that makes the highlight reels and gets the attention of NFL scouts. These hits also cause a lot of concussions.
Steve Shaw, is considered one of the best football officials in the country and because of that the Southeastern Conference hired him three years ago to be the league’s supervisor of officials.
So when Shaw said that the targeting rule “is the most significant change I have seen in my career,” everyone should take notice.
This rule was actually already in place. The change is that in addition to the 15-yard penalty, the player making the hit can be ejected from the game. If the player is ejected in the first half, then he will sit out the rest of the game. If he is ejected in the second half, he’ll also sit out the first half of the next game.
If a player is ejected, the replay official automatically reviews the play. The replay official has the authority to put the player back in the game if he feels the hit did not rise to the level of ejection.
This could spell trouble simply because of the strong possibility the rule will be applied inconsistently. Fans will not like it. They will accuse officials of ejecting their players while turning their eyes away from others who commit the flagrant hit.
Check out Facebook or Twitter and you can quickly see the opposition to the rule.
One fan said “Why don’t we go ahead and just play flag football.”
Another comment was “People watch football because it’s a contact sport.”
How about this one. “Why don’t we just put SKIRTS on the players.”
“We have heard all of those concerns and we appreciate that the fans are so passionate,” said Shaw. “But trust me that these changes are very important to the rules committee and to the commissioners. It is going to happen.”
It’s called “behavior modification” and the threat of immediate ejection is expected to be the modifier.
Authors of the new rule is that its purpose is to change the player’s attitude.
Coaches are not going to be happy with the rule.
I can hear it now. One coach is going to yell at the officials begging him to protect his player. On the other hand, the coach who has a player that got ejected, is going say they are taking the aggressiveness out of the game.
There is no question this will be a game changer. It will change the way tackling is taught. You just can’t come in too high.
There was one report that Christ Petersen at Boise State was working with rugby teams because they tackle from the side.
So let’s ask several questions.
There’s a possibility of all kinds of mistakes with this rule? Yes, there’s no doubt about that.
Somebody is going to get thrown out of a gem who maybe shouldn’t be? Yes, that surely will happen.
This could cost someone a big game? A good possibility.
With class-action lawsuits on concussions against the NFL working its way through the court system, college football officials are scared to death and maybe they should be.
Should it hit the college game, college officials will be asked one particular question. Did you do everything you could to make the game as safe as possible? The answer better be yes and they better be able to back up that answer.
Just wait and see. Somebody is going to lose a key player for a key game. There will be charges of favoritism. There will be accusations that it will be called against the little guys but not the national championship contenders. There will be complaints about inconsistency - you called this but you didn’t call that.
Mark it down that is going to happen.
But here is the bottom line: The officials have been told that this is a point of emphasis for this football season. Officials have been told that if they see it, they had better call it.
What I take from that is that if there is any doubt, call it.
I see trouble brewing. It will be interesting to see this develop.