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New Targeting Penalties: Bad for College Football

The NCAA's heart is in the right place, this time, but that does not mean their reasoning is.


If you hit a defenseless player above the head, you are going to be thrown out of the game.

'Targeting', a phrase coined to conjure up violent associations, is no longer just a 15 yard penalty. Once called, officials will review the play upstairs, and if you are guilty you will be making your way back to the locker room. You are ejected from the football game. If your infraction came in the second half or overtime of the game, you are out for the first half of the next game as well.

Continuously, throughout the last two or three years the discussion has been focused on whether or not the game travels to fast for defensive players to react. However, instead of taking a step back the NCAA has decided to toe the extremist line in an effort to protect their players.

I just have trouble seeing how the new penalties will accomplish that.

I can not think of a person in College Football that is known as a head hunter. In the NFL, James Harrison may deserve it. But no collegiate athlete carries that title. I believe every player makes an effort to play by the rules. The 15 yard penalty forced defenders to be more careful. It deterred recklessness. It was working. The NCAA has decided that it is not enough though. And this will change the foundation of the sport.

I predict that the rule will eliminate big hits after catches. The defensive tactic of jarring the ball loose after a catch will cease to exist. How can you justify loosing your starting safety for a remainder of the game for a chance at stopping a 13 yard play? You can not. Coverage will now become vital. Zone defenses will fail far more often. You have to be able to play man, or a decent quarterback is going to tear apart your secondary.

There is no way around it.

But just because it is silly to allow your star safety rope to make a play, it does not mean that it won't happen. This new penalty will change football games. One flag could change two football games if the defender has to sit out the first half of the next game. Once a a first-string player is lost for, it will cause harm on the rest of the unit. Suddenly, the guy they have been playing with is gone, and they must adapt while playing in possibly the most important game of their season. Nuts ain't it?

And the whole idea that MAC refs are responsible to make this call is not lost on me , or Akron defensive coordinator Chuck Amato, either. In a game against Miami last season, the officials continuously proved they had no idea how to regulate the targeting rule. They had interpreted wrong. If that game was played this year, the Zips would have probably lost four or five players.

To be fair, MAC refs were spot on in the Akron-Kent State game with these type of calls. It was a give and take thing that now is important that referees are 100% right. It just seems unfair to put them in that position.

The game is too fast, and too violent, to regulate every blow to the head. It's going to happen no matter what penalty is enacted. I searched around for NCAA concussion numbers dating back ten years to the present, but I came up empty. I would have imagined that the numbers would have gone done because of the new emphasis. I predict that they will stay the same even after this extreme new penalty is put in place.

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