ESPN: Huge spike in FBS targeting penalty enforcement

Submitted by Mr. Yost on September 21st, 2017 at 3:26 PM

SIAP - I checked the first 3 pages.

ESPN and the AP pretty much confirming what we discuss every Saturday. Guys are getting kicked out of games at an alarming rate. I know at one point last year I watched a kid get kicked out of Clemson/L'ville, one from Texas/USC, and TWO from LSU's defense in a 2 hour span.

Found it somewhat interesting since we've discussed it quite a bit lately.


College football's Bowl Subdivision has seen a 73 percent increase in the number of targeting penalties enforced through the first three weeks of the season compared with the same point in 2016.

National coordinator of officials Rogers Redding said Wednesday that 55 targeting penalties have been enforced in 214 games (0.26 per game). Last year at this time, 35 targeting penalties had been enforced in 230 games (0.15).



September 21st, 2017 at 3:30 PM ^

I feel like we're very fortunate to have lost neither Bush against Florida nor Gary against Cincinnati.  Not saying they deserved to be tossed, just that the way things normally go against us I expected it.

Goggles Paisano

September 21st, 2017 at 4:19 PM ^

Total joke that even got called.  Delay the game for 3-5 minutes to watch Gary drill the QB in the chest with his facemask.  I get the point of the rule, but the NCAA has managed to really fuck up the administration of it.  I think it can be a good rule for player safety but the rule and officiating of it needs a complete overhaul.  

Targeting is like porn, we know it when we see it.  Most of the ejections are not something most of us would consider targeting.  If i recall, the rule was created to prevent defenders from launching themselves like missles into receivers heads.  It has somehow morphed into one of worst rules in NCAA history.  


September 21st, 2017 at 4:50 PM ^

The bullet points of possible reasons for calling or not calling the penalty makes it seem as if it always comes down to a judgment call and everyone has a different judgment about what is and isn't targeting. If the actual purpose of the rule is to make football safer it fails that test. Perhaps the NCAA and rules committee (is that a thing?) should actually begin implementing some of the recommendations that exist around making the sport safer.


September 21st, 2017 at 5:00 PM ^

The description of the penalty was "Roughing the passer with targeting", which means that it was a roughing the passer penalty first and foremost while targeting happened to be involved. It obviously was not targeting,which they corrected upon review. It's hard to know what the referee saw in real time, but on replay, almost immediately after the ball is released, Gary starts lowering his head, takes two small steps and buries the QB. In my mind, that's roughing the passer as he was coming from almost no momentum and definitely had an opportunity to not make contact. Having watched it numerous times at live speed, I'd say at worst that's a judgement call for him to have to make, but I think he made the right call and everything was handled well.

Mr. Yost

September 21st, 2017 at 3:50 PM ^

I honestly believe the only reason Bush wasn't tossed was because it was the 2nd play of the 1st game of the season.

I feel like there was just a human element that was like "I can't do this to this guy on his 1st defensive snap of the season, in a HUGE matchup here in Dallas." 

If that same play happens in the 4th quarter, I think he's gone. (And no, I don't think the UF one was the same, plus there was already precedent with Bush so there was no way you could toss that kid for a similar hit).


September 21st, 2017 at 4:17 PM ^

Spot on, it is exactly the point of the targeting rule.  That's the reason that intent has nothing to do with the rule.  Proper football is played with the head up, and proper tackles use the arms and wrap up.  If you employ proper technique, you won't be called or ejected 6 9's of the time.

Oregon Wolverine

September 21st, 2017 at 7:57 PM ^

The targeting reversal made sense as Bush was not leading with the crown and made initial contact with his shoulder pad.  While the personal foul was not subject to review (I really don't know why it should not have been), the UF player was running the sideline so tight that it seems patently unfair to have even given Bush the PF -- he tried to pull up, but when an opposing player is so close to the sideline, would it have even been possible for Bush to stop and avoid contact?

Its not like the player was 2-3 yards out of bounds.  Seems like the "shallowness" of the contact should have been more thoughtfully considered.


September 21st, 2017 at 3:30 PM ^

Protecting the players is key but the inconsistency with which the calls are being made (especially in instances of unavoidable/incidental contact) are ruining the game. They need to find a better balance.  

Mr. Yost

September 21st, 2017 at 3:47 PM ^

I agree. I'm also not necessarily comfortable tossing someone for a game on the first offense. I'm not sure how else you do it because you'll always have to judge intent. But I think there is a difference between a poor tackle and launching yourself recklessly.

I would be for someone who makes forceable contact to the heck or neck as a result of a poor tackle getting a 1 quarter suspension with a full quarter defined as 8:00 left in the quarter or more. Meaning if there is 7:59 left on the clock, it's that 7:59 + 1 quarter - just bad luck.

If the refs judge there was a player just throwing himself trying to dislodge the ball with the crown of his helmet. That player is done for the day.

I realize it's kind of like the 5 yard facemask and the 15 yard facemask...BUT those weren't reviewable. Every targeting penalty is reviewed so you do have more time to judge intent or someone being reckless.

These guys only play a small number of games in their college career, we're taking away too much opportunity. Especially when you have these plays where the offensive player is going to the ground. You dive to tackle them and there is literally NO strike zone and your shoulder clips the players head. Clearly you were diving at the guy's legs, he falls, and is now "defenseless" and all of a sudden you're tossed.

Same thing when you go to tackle a guy and your teammate hits him a split second before you get there and alters the strike zone where you were aiming. All of these happens so fast, there has to be a way to keep the "accidents" on the field less than a "full" game.

I digress.


814 East U

September 21st, 2017 at 3:36 PM ^

Would it be possible to designate a Target 1 vs. a Target 2 like they do in college basketball?

That way when a guy drills the QB in the head late he is tossed and when we get these "football plays" (PSU last year, Gary vs. Cincy) we give them one more chance and just a 15 yard penalty (just like 2 flagrant 2 calls vs. flagrant 1).

Mr. Yost

September 21st, 2017 at 3:53 PM ^

I think this is the other answer...and like the poster says below, like yellow and red cards in soccer.

Two yellows = Red or two flagrant 1's = a 2.

I'd even be in favor of your "yellow" card be carried for a "full" game like the targeting penalty is. So if you get a yellow in the 2nd half, you still have it for the first half of the next game.

Goggles Paisano

September 21st, 2017 at 4:29 PM ^

Not a bad idea but they can't get the current rule right most of the time.  Adding another layer may make it worse.  IMO, they need to dumb the rule down quite a bit to get back to its origin of missle lauching players going crown first into the helmet of receivers.  Then perhaps tweak it a bit from there.  We are now at a stage where lineman are getting called for it when frankly the hits they apply are not nearly as violent as a LB or DB bringing the wood from a full head of steam.  

And I also get a major red-ass when I see a guy get tossed for hitting a ball carrier that has fallen into the line of the defenders helmet.  There was head to head contact, but it was not intentional.  We see this every week and the announcers always say the same thing..."it is unfortunate he is getting ejected for that".  


September 21st, 2017 at 3:36 PM ^

find this to be one of the most effective methods in addressing the CTE controversy.  Regardless of where you stand on it, what is clear is that 1) the issue is not going away, and 2) it is having a negative impact on the perception of the game.  So, I cannot say this increase in targeting calls is a bad thing. 

If they can effectively re-train football players to actively and consciously avoid high impact head contact, that can only be good for the health of the players and the longevity of the game.  Yeah, it sucks when it is your player, and the length of the review is often brutal, but I'm not sure there is much of choice right now. 

Sione For Prez

September 21st, 2017 at 3:38 PM ^

I wish they had broken it down by type of targeting as well. Crown of the head vs high/hard contact.

I don't remember seeing the crown of the helmet targeting called much last year. Malik McDowell vs Indiana in October was the first one I can remember seeing and I've seen it multiple times this year.


September 21st, 2017 at 3:39 PM ^

Since we're stuck with these rules,  and the interminate replays for them.

I wouldn't mind going yellow cards, red cards for these type of things.  Plus it would be another option so the booth doesn't have to affect the game by kicking a player out on a marginal call.  I think it would speed up the reviews of an all or nothing aspect.  Insead of the 5 minutes they took with Bush.

2nd yellow card of the season, banned the next game

Bush -- Yellow card

Gary  --nothing

Florida safety hit on Black  -- yellow


September 21st, 2017 at 3:42 PM ^

They may still struggle with defining exactly what targeting is yet but at it's core, anytime a player leads with his helmet and not his body or arms, that's targeting.   And they only way these human missles are going to get stopped is if they referees call enough penalties to make it painful for the defenses who do it regularly.

Go back and watch video of football until the mid 80's and you almost never see players leading with the helmet.   But since the advent of ESPN and the highlight film hits started becoming popular the leading with the helmet when making tackles started to gain in popularity.

Would rather they over-corrected now rather than letting this problem continue to grow.  Especially with what we now know about CTE.

Mr. Yost

September 21st, 2017 at 4:02 PM ^

But what about when they don't lead with their helmet at all?

That's part of the problem because half of the rule is "forceable contact to the head or neck."

It doesn't always require a helmet.


....I also find the rule hypocritical in a way. It only protects skill position players. Lineman crack their heads against each other on every damn play and no one says a WORD. Paint swapping is a badge of honor for them.

So are they saying it's okay for Ryan Glasgow to have CTE, but not Wilton Speight? Of course not. But I'd like to see the research where slamming your head into another 275+ man for 3 hours is safe.

But I get it, you have to start somewhere I suppose.


September 21st, 2017 at 4:12 PM ^

But seldom do you see lineman go out with concussions.  Reason?  The impact doesnt get to generate as much force cause they dont get going very fast before they slam into each other.  Neither party has a chance to generate much speed before impact so not nearly as much force is exerted on the helmet.

But once players get into space and have a chance to get moving fast that all changes.   I think that's why you see it enforced with the skill position players and not with the guys on the line.

Mr. Yost

September 21st, 2017 at 4:16 PM ^

I'd much rather have a concussion than CTE or increasing the probability of CTE made by ramming my head against someone else over and over.

...just sayin.

Like I said, you have to start somewhere. And I'd never suggest taking the rule out. But I don't see a problem with making it (what I'd consider) better. They've improved a number of rules over the long history of football.

Mr. Yost

September 21st, 2017 at 4:12 PM ^

Because his right foot came off the ground so they said he was launching and their helmets grazed.

I believe that's Bradley Roby on CJ Fedorwhatever his name is.

I just remember Roby saying something like "He's 6'7, 260...look at me? How else am I supposed to get him to the ground? I'm just supposed to get run over?"

But yea, he was tossed. Not nearly as bad as Michigan/MSU. Nothing will ever be that bad and I feel like I should personally be apologized to by B1G officials for the rest of my life for that. Especially after the damn ending of the game...oh why did I start this THREAD!!!???


September 21st, 2017 at 4:29 PM ^

Um, by using a proper tackle?  When I played in HS, I tackled guys much bigger than me without issue.  The problem is players don't want to use proper tackles, prefering instead to go for the highlight reel knock out hits.  And that sequence is the perfect example, look at where the defenders hands and arms are: he has no intention of doing a proper tackle and is about as flagrant as it gets.


September 21st, 2017 at 3:46 PM ^

What about penalizing offensive players for lowering their heads into a tackle?  If we're trying to protect the players, that's just as dangerous as a defender going in high.

The rule is well intentioned, but so poorly defined and officiated that it only serves to ruin games.  If enforcement is way up, even after a couple of years of coaches teaching their players not to target, then something is really wrong.  Targeting should go down as players learn about the rule, not up.

Mr. Yost

September 21st, 2017 at 4:07 PM ^

I made this thread 40 minutes ago and I've already found THREE very realistic solutions to better this system.

It blows my mind that the leaders of college football can't develop something to make it either more consistent...OR less costly for unintentional hits (which should never = someone who's malicious or reckless).

...or both.

The Maizer

September 21st, 2017 at 4:43 PM ^

I don't like how targeting is dealt with now, but I disagree with you a little here. Behavior that leads to dangerous plays should be deincentivized regardless if the behavior is on purpose or not.

It'd be like getting an F on an exam that you skipped on purpose vs. one you slept through because you drank too much the night before. I think you have to punish the result here rather than the intent to get players to avoid situations where they may accidentally make forcible contact to the head too.


September 22nd, 2017 at 11:01 AM ^

the person getting the F is wholly responsible for each incedent.

In football, there are other actions that contribute to the problem cheifly, offensive players.

What if the teacher decided to lock the classroom door 2 minutes early, or arbitraily demanded blue ink pens only.

Accidents and purposeful intent should always be treated differently, thats why there's a difference between manslaughter and murder.