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Thursday, April 25, 2019

Coaches propose changes to college football’s targeting rule

Tony Brown targeting

The targeting rule in college football is viewed as one that has helped cut down on the amount of dangerous hits to the heads of players, but coaches think a change is necessary in order to make it more fair.

As it stands, targeting occurs when a player “makes forcible contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent with the helmet, forearm, hand, fist, elbow or shoulder.” Targeting results in a 15-yard penalty and an ejection, and all targeting calls are reviewed. Intent does not matter, and that is the part coaches want to see changed.

According to ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association Todd Berry said Wednesday that FBS coaches unanimously supported a rule change at their annual meeting that would assign targeting into two categories — Targeting 1 and Targeting 2. The system would be similar to what we see with Flagrant 1 and Flagrant 2 fouls in basketball. Targeting 1 would be a 15-yard penalty, while Targeting 2 would be a penalty and an ejection.

“Targeting 1 would carry a 15-yard penalty, meaning that there was no malicious intent here,” Berry explained. “We recognize this was not something where they’re trying to hurt or maim someone else. Targeting 2 would be that of malicious intent, the one we’re all trying to get rid of.”

Berry said coaches also agreed that any player who is found to have multiple Targeting 2 violations over the course of a season should face harsher penalties than a one-game suspension. There are still questions over whether multiple Targeting 1 violations in the same game could equal a Targeting 2.

That seems fair, as we have seen several instances where players clearly did not intend to make forcible contact to an opponent’s head and neck area. Football is a fast game, and sometimes it simply cannot be avoided. Perhaps a tweak in the rule would help the NCAA avoid embarrassing controversies like the ones we have seen in the past.

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