Coach O (LSU) Says the Coaches Need to Revist Targeting Rule

Submitted by LongLiveBo on October 24th, 2018 at 1:07 AM

I don’t know for sure but this the first time I’ve a heard a coach say that the rule needs to be reviewed and I want to buy that man a beer.  The application of the rule has become comical and the punishment for the rule is way too severe. Can this be embedded from a mobile device now?



October 24th, 2018 at 1:11 AM ^

I'm sure this is purely a selfless move out of Coach O's love of the students and the purity of football and has nothing to do with the fact that he's got a guy out for the first half of the Alabama game.


October 24th, 2018 at 1:16 AM ^

I don’t care if you can call it self serving, it doesn’t change the fact that they lost a guy for the first half of the biggest game of their year for a terrible call.  That’s why I’m excited to see a head coach finally say something.  For all of us throwing our hands in the air every Saturday as terrible targeting calls have been costing kids significant parts of games I think this is the first time a coach with a profile has stepped up and questioned exactly what the fuck we’re doing and I love it.  It’s a terribly flawed rule and it needs to addressed. 

East German Judge

October 24th, 2018 at 7:26 AM ^

While it is flawed, it is still self serving the timing of his comments.  He didn't make these comments 2 weeks ago and isn't thinking about the kids. 

Sorry, I'm still ticked at him for his self serving, chicken shit tactics regarding Harbaugh having his satellite camps in Louisiana.

BTW, Mike Leach says a big fuck you coach o. 

UgLi Eric

October 24th, 2018 at 1:23 AM ^

Your probably right. But still I'd like to see the targeting rule applied differently. 


  1. You target a player that is not part of the actual play, or after the play, you don't play again this season. If your action isn't a football action, and your intent is to end someones season then yours is over. Reviewable in the week after the game. 
  2. You target a player in game action and it was in fact targeting by the law, your out for 4 complete quarters of play (this half game carryover is too black and white. I need some grey).
  3. The rule needs to be amended just like the roughing the kicker rules was. So if it's inadvertently targeting (oxymoronic, I know) then it's only a 2 quarter punishment.
  4. Also, obviously not in our self interest, but the 15 yard penalty can be accepted or rejected by coach, but the player personal penalty stands. 


I'm sure better legal minds than my own can put a better list together, but the point is to preserve players safety, I don't see how hitting someone to end their season ends with 2-4 quarters punishment for the perpetrator. This should probably apply to any dirty hit, regardless of the outcome, but that would be difficult to police.


October 24th, 2018 at 11:33 AM ^

Dude.  Your punishments are way too severe.  Did you give any consideration to how bad the people are who are making these calls?  They can't even make the call right now and the punishment is only 1/2 a game.  You want them to make the same calls and it could cost a whole game.  

I'm not down.


October 24th, 2018 at 1:29 AM ^

I don’t know why you would argue for a rule that punishes and individual with suspension for an “inadvertent” act. If it’s not intentional, then no suspension should follow. A penalty is different as it corrects an imbalance in the fairness of a particular play. 


October 24th, 2018 at 6:20 AM ^

I disagree, because then you get into a discussion of "How can you determine intent?" It's very difficult to know what's going on inside the brain of a player making a tackle.

Some targeting calls are because the guy is trying to hurt the opposing player.

Some targeting calls are because of a last-second change in levels by the opposing player.

Some targeting calls are because the "targeter" is using poor technique.

If a defensive player is using poor technique, he might not be "intentionally" trying to target the opposing player...but I'm still okay with him being kicked out, because it will (hopefully) teach him to use better technique. If he doesn't, he'll be getting targeting penalties repeatedly.


October 24th, 2018 at 7:07 AM ^

I understand your objection about intent, but officials do infer intent on calls involving things like unsportsmanlike conduct, facemasking (determining the severity of the penalty), and intentional grounding by a QB (though in that last example, officials are aided by objective indicators).  If you're saying it would be bad to expand the range of calls on which officials determine intent --yes, that makes sense. 

But some targeting calls make no sense at all, like the one 3 years ago that got Bolden ejected against MSU and that was upheld by the replay official.  Ejection seems too severe a penalty, with too big an effect on the game, for something that can be so capricious.  Maybe something like basketball's distinction between flagrant 1 and flagrant 2 fouls would be in order--although that would require officials to determine intent more often.  The targeting rule seems to be applied inconsistently from game to game, and as long as that continues, some possibility of mitigating the penalty should be available, IMHO.


October 24th, 2018 at 7:16 AM ^

I agree.  I think officials would generally infer intent based on whether the player it looked like the player could have avoided the foul or not (with the idea being that if you could have avoided committing the foul and didn't do so, you must have acted intentionally).  That obviously still presents some difficult judgment calls around whether the foul was "avoidable."  But probably the bigger issue with that approach is that it could undermine the whole purpose of the targeting rules.  The reason the penalty for targeting is so harsh is to influence players not only to refrain from hitting a player in the head or striking with the crown intentionally--but so they will take significant measures to avoid doing so even inadvertently.      


October 24th, 2018 at 8:53 AM ^

Football might solve the problem with the vast discrepancy between targeting calls by going to something akin to soccer's yellow card/red card distinction.

This would mean "targeting cautions" (yellow cards), which would still come with a 15 yard penalty, on plays like the one by Hudson against the QB earlier in the season or Metellus's penalty against ND, in which the player is being reckless but not launching/hitting with the crown/targeting a defenseless player. Two cautions in a game would lead to ejection (you could also do something like 3 in a season means the player has to sit the following game).

"Targeting ejections" would be reserved for serious foul play, plays judged as intended to injure an opponent (as an aside, that standard would also allow officials to eject players for stuff like what Panisuik pulled against Ruiz).


October 24th, 2018 at 2:13 PM ^

In any sport involving third party officiating, there will be discrepancies due to human judgement. I would suggest a few tweaks to make the rule more fairly adjudicated and impactful. 

1) During the game, let the refs determine if a player should be disqualified from playing the remainder of that game with the help of video replay. This gives the refs the freedom to get a kid out who is clearly trying to injure other players and if it is a bad judgement call, it only affects the current game. 

2) Have an independent NCAA review board review all personal fouls, targeting, unsportsmanlike, etc calls and decide if the player should be suspended for the full next game. They need to inform the team by 12:00 EST on Monday so the coaches can plan accordingly for the week. 

This gives more strength to the rule as a player could miss up to almost two full games if the penalty happens in the first quarter and it is deemed purposeful and dangerous by the review board. It also limits a poor officiating crews ability to impact the next game.

steve sharik

October 24th, 2018 at 1:38 AM ^

I prefer guys missing halves of games unfairly as opposed to guys getting CTE.  Dudes were head hunting just a few years ago.  If the price of taking that out of the game is a few unfair DQ's while the game sorts out how best to do it, I can deal with it.  Put another way, if given the choice of us losing the MSU game in 2015 when Bolden got ridiculously tossed, or still have Junior Seau alive, I'll take the latter.

Hail Harbo

October 24th, 2018 at 3:06 AM ^

Really, your concern is about CTE?  Then why not advocate that any player, at anytime, should they lead with their head, be ejected from the game? 

It is hypocritical bullshit that a ball carrier can lower his shoulder and dive forward for extra yards and concuss a defensive player and it is the defensive player that is ejected from the game. You know, once he regains consciousness. How about no more head first slides?  How about no more dives for first downs?  How about no more diving for the End Zone?  All of those actions put the player at risk for a head injury. Or do brains only suffer injury when a defensive player knocks on a ball carrier’s noggin?

steve sharik

October 24th, 2018 at 12:05 PM ^

Who said I didn't advocate for that?

I completely agree that it's hypocritical bullshit, just like a defensive facemask is always and quickly a 15-yarder, while offensive facemasking rarely gets called.  A defensive blow to the head is a 15-yarder, but ball carriers are allowed to punch defenders in the face and head because "no, that is a stiff arm."

I advocate equal safety rules on both sides of the ball, and wrote some somewhat controversial ideas in some diaries a couple years back. (It's only somewhat controversial b/c I'm just some dude on the internet.  If any ex-coach or ex-player of notoriety were to suggest those things, they'd be roundly rebuked b/c "hurr durr wussification, toughness, tuk er jerbs" mentality.)

I think the best solution is to take the hard, indestructible helmet out of the game.  You want to lower your head and be a battering ram, you do so at your own risk.


October 24th, 2018 at 9:40 AM ^

Let me know when you spend years training to play football and an official makes a terrible call that results in an ejection because you were playing football.  The penalty is way too severe especially considering the inconsistent and comical application.  If you want to kick guys out at least copy the personal foul rule and don’t kick them out until the second violation so guys aren’t missing games for a single judgment call. 

steve sharik

October 24th, 2018 at 12:12 PM ^

So, your logic is that since someone has been taught for years to do something unsafe, he should be allowed to continue to do it?  Because, to him, that's just "playing football?"  Back in the day, grabbing a facemask was legal.  Only some players wore them.  Defenders were taught to grab what they could to get a guy down.  Should those players have been allowed to continue to facemask because to them, that's just "playing football?"



October 24th, 2018 at 2:24 PM ^

I’m really not sure what you’re arguing.  I’m not against targeting being a rule, I just think it’s being applied comically  and inconsistently.  Of course rules should change for player safety but this one is a mess and guys are missing huge chunks of games for terrible calls and that should bother fans and coaches.  Are all targeting calls terrible?  No.  Are some targeting calls a mystery and terrible.  Yes, and these are the calls that people hate.  This is what I mean when I write “guys playing football”. They are playing within the current rules and still get booted.  See the Joe Bolden ejection vs MSU.  Are you seriously going to defend that as the game changing and the fans need to change with it?    

Yinka Double Dare

October 24th, 2018 at 2:11 AM ^

The targeting rule is good and the idea is to make guys tackle such that even "inadvertent" ones rarely happen. Maybe an "unavoidable" exception (thinking along the lines of that Penn State linebacker who basically had no chance to avoid what got him booted against us in 2016).

That being said the one on that LSU player was horseshit. I'm not really sure how it was targeting at all. Incidental slight helmet contact does not equal targeting 

Khaleke The Freak

October 24th, 2018 at 4:02 AM ^

Coach O needs to look at the clip of Metellus laying out Felton Davis.  That is what hard hitting, clean football looks like.  White clearly went high on his hit, if he would of dipped his head to the side and drove his shoulder into the QB’s waist or chest then no targeting.  Pretty freakin simple...

Goggles Paisano

October 24th, 2018 at 5:39 AM ^

I'll support Coach O.  The intention of rule makes sense.  Penalize guys that are launching themselves like missiles leading with the crown of their helmet.  That can do major damage. The expansion of the rule to include just about every other body part to the head is absurd.  This rule as it currently is applied is horrible for college football and could have  huge impact on a teams season for a judgement call by a man sitting in a booth.  Targeting is my #1 pet peeve with CFB right now and I would love nothing more than to see it overhauled this offseason.  


October 24th, 2018 at 3:03 PM ^

Paisan has the right idea here.  A well meaning rule that should have been carefully written only after extensive input, direction and agreement from all sides has devolved into a BS directive full of idiotic nuance and interpretation.  All weekend long we see slo-mo replays reviewing non-targeting offenses where bodies are flying and helmets are getting hit just as a natural occurrence of the game yet no targeting is called but then on the next play where similar contact is made a player is thrown from the game.  This renders the rule a complete joke and will actually ruin the game if it’s alowed to continue as ambiguous as it is and it ends up having a direct cause of a game result.


October 24th, 2018 at 5:52 AM ^

Targeting has because the catch rule of college football. No one knows what targeting is. It's like roulette who gets called for it and no one knows what to expect.

The call on that LSU player might be the worst one I've ever seen. It amazes me that these get reviews and are still upheld!


October 24th, 2018 at 7:26 AM ^

I think a lot of the confusion around understanding "what targeting is" comes from the poor decision to label the foul "targeting," a word that naturally implies a purposeful act.  People hear the word "targeting" and they think, "oh, that's when you intentionally go after a guy's head."  But if you look at the rule, that's not what it is.  Even though it's called "targeting," the foul is basically strict liability--it occurs whenever you make forceful contact to the head or neck area on a defenseless opponent, or strike with the crown of the helmet.  Whether you did so on purpose is irrelevant.  

So, what we often see happening is some player hit a guy with the crown or in the head/neck area (on a defenseless opponent) in what appears to be an inadvertent manner, and people say "well he didn't do that on purpose--how can that be targeting?"  So it isn't that rule is necessarily being applied incorrectly, it's that the application doesn't match people's expectations, probably based on the misleading name of the offense.