FBS Coaches Support Tiered Targeting Penalties

Submitted by WirlingDirvish on January 9th, 2019 at 3:35 PM

Link: http://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/25721923/college-football-coaches-want-targeting-penalties-split-two-categories

From the article:

"Todd Berry, the executive director of the American Football Coaches Association, said Wednesday that the FBS coaches in their annual meeting unanimously supported a model that would assign Targeting 1 or Targeting 2 to a player who makes forcible contact with the crown of his helmet. Targeting 1 fouls would result in a 15-yard penalty but no ejection or suspension. Targeting 2 fouls would result in an automatic ejection and potential suspension."


One thing that I like about the current rule is that there is no attempt to gauge intent. IMO attempting to gauge intent leaves to much gray area for the refs to inject their opinion. Additionally, the current rule issues punishment based on the result, not the intent. It doesn't matter if a player intended to hit the head/neck area of another player or not, the impact and thus the risk of injury occurred. If the goal is to eliminate contact to the head/neck area, then accidental contact needs to be eliminated as well as intentional contact.


IMO, the only way to really eliminate contact to the head/neck area is to punish all contact equally (I'm not saying that punishment is consistent today, but it has gotten more consistent over the years). Eventually players will adjust attack angles and tackling technique and the risk of contact will be reduced/eliminated.



January 9th, 2019 at 4:22 PM ^

But....It’s already a judgement call...


Just in this case you would be able to look at Bolden being thrown on top of a QB, Khaleke making a tackle in the hole at the LOS, Khaleke turning his body to AVOID helmet contact, or multiple instances of incidental contact and say “Hey, maybe this play doesn’t warrant an ejection.” 

Fact is, it’s a high-speed, contact sport. HIGH contact. Helmets are going to hit helmets from time to time. It’s part of the game. What you want to eliminate is the reckless and egregious hits. And these guys shouldn’t be eliminated from the game based on what typically is incidental contact. 


January 9th, 2019 at 4:28 PM ^

Yeah, I've refined my opinion a bit and tend to agree with this take. Targeting 1 could be reserved for incidental contact and, if anything, be called more commonly. Treat it like running into the kicker. The only question asked when throwing the flag is "did contact occur?" Targeting 2 would start to ask questions about force and who initiated the contact. Still think intent shouldn't enter the equation.


January 9th, 2019 at 7:45 PM ^

To me, if you’re going to eject a player there needs to be no doubt that it in fact IS targeting. Too many times have we seen the “rules experts” say they don’t think targeting occurred on a hit, only for the video review to confirm the targeting and the player be ejected.

Ejecting a player for such a grey area hit just seems overboard and unnecessary. Like I said, you have two full grown men running at each other and colliding. Helmets are going to hit helmets. A 15 yard penalty, you can live with. Once you start kicking people out for common plays it’s just ruining the integrity of the game. 


January 10th, 2019 at 5:47 AM ^

I don’t think I agree with this.  I think sometimes refs with reverse a targeting call that should technically stand because they don’t want to eject a player for an accidental occurrence.  This gives them a true middle ground that does not force them into an all or nothing call that often leads to a disproportionate outcome.

Wolverine Devotee

January 9th, 2019 at 3:42 PM ^

Perfect. Brian suggested once they need to go to a soccer-style red/yellow card system.

Khaleke Hudson getting first half ejections for the next game for bullshit calls was ridiculous.


January 9th, 2019 at 3:44 PM ^

This is desperately needed.  Targeting 1 would be most penalties and would hopefully, like late-hit penalties, deter most intentional helmet-to-helmet contact, but not incur ridiculously random ejections.

Targeting 2 would be used for egregious fouls where someone launches themselves into someone's head with an intent to deliver a kill shot.  

I couldn't support this more.  Targeting as called right now is the stupidest penalty in the history of college football. 


January 9th, 2019 at 3:54 PM ^

Targeting as allied right now isn't the problem, it's individual crews and how they deliver judgement and penalty, and its safe to say some crews are terrible no matter how the rule is written. B1G officiating specifically seems to favor certain outcomes. If the rule ease forced to protect players instead of focus on punishing teams it would work as is. I also agree with tier penalties but that won't fix idiot B1G officials calling targeting 2 when a Michigan linebacker is blocked in the back after escaping a hold, and falling on a downed QB...


January 9th, 2019 at 4:40 PM ^

But the new rule will give even terrible crews cover, because for the most part they aren't going to eject someone unless it is an obvious ejection.  Yeah, there will still be terrible targeting calls, just like there are terrible PI calls and terrible late hit calls etc. 

But I'm guessing that unless you have Sun Belt officials, ejections will only happen on OBVIOUS INTENTIONAL helmet-to-helmet missile strikes.  

Arb lover

January 9th, 2019 at 3:49 PM ^

You can launch toward a player targeting their chest and once airborne their body moves and you make incidental contact. This happens all the time with targeting vs quarterbacks who try to slide at the last second, or with receivers trying to make a cut before the cb makes contact. That's why it's not black and white and why there need to be better rules.

Arb lover

January 9th, 2019 at 3:56 PM ^

The other problem with the op's own argument (not the linked article), is that under the current system a coach could absolutely teach a receiving Corp to say drop towards the ground last minute when making a catch. With 6 such receptions per game that action would probably result in 2 ejections from an opponents secondary- an attractive premise...

But it actually places guys in danger by encouraging helmet to helmet contact and thus tbi.


January 9th, 2019 at 3:58 PM ^

I have no major disagreement with this new tiered rule as it is proposed, however, I think this approach completely misses the issue. The issue with targeting (in college football at least) is inconsistency in how it is called. Even with the benefit of instant replay to apply the rule correctly, we still find ourselves scratching our heads how one hit gets called and another one doesn't. If refs cannot consistently apply a rule, I don't see how changing it is going to help.   


January 9th, 2019 at 3:59 PM ^

I 100% disagree with the OPs take on this. A two-tier system is exactly what targeting needs and I have been hoping they would go to something like this for years. Instituting what is basically a yellow-card/red-card system would be great.


January 9th, 2019 at 4:12 PM ^

I agree.  The OP is right that even if it is accidental targeting, the damage still occurred to the player being hit.  However, if we can punish people with intent more harshly, that will reduce the number of head shots long term since players would change their behaviors.  It's hard to eliminate the accidental head shots, since they are accidents.  Guys who are punished will struggle to change their behavior to reduce them since they were never intentional.


January 9th, 2019 at 4:00 PM ^

Split the baby.   If Targeting happens (intentional or not) you are banned for the half that you are playing in.  At half-time or after the game make a determination if the targeting was intentional or not.  If so ban the player for the next half they play.  

Hail Harbo

January 9th, 2019 at 4:23 PM ^

Better would be to take a cue from hockey, make the penalty a timed penalty.  Currently a player could be charged with targeting on the opening kickoff and thus would miss 60 minutes of playing time.  Then make that the penalty 60 game minutes, to be carried over from one half to another, from one game to another.

Bando Calrissian

January 9th, 2019 at 4:03 PM ^

The only problem is that two people can watch about 500 targeting penalties, then each come away with 250 calls that don't overlap with the other's 250. All this does is add a layer of complexity to an already comically misapplied/misinterpreted penalty. So, more controversy. Which is all we need.


January 9th, 2019 at 4:07 PM ^

After reading responses, I would be open to revising my opinion. I think a two tier system where targeting 1 is completely black and white could work. Essentially targeting 1 would answer the question "Did contact occur". There is no consideration regarding intent or force. Targeting 2 would include qualifiers such as "forcible" and "leading". A comparable situation would be roughing vs running into the kicker. I still think trying to gauge intent is never going to be consistently called.


January 9th, 2019 at 4:08 PM ^

I agree with your opinion on the current rule. Sure, I would like to see more consistency in application, but it's fairly consistent nowadays, and probably note consistent than holding or PI if we're being honest.


January 9th, 2019 at 4:20 PM ^

More consistent*


To expand, the current rule is meant to be a little over the top in punishment to affect change in how players position themselves to make plays. Take your head out of tackling, avoid the vicious/most violent hits. It is meant to change the game, and I think it's worth it for the safety of unpaid student atheltes.


January 9th, 2019 at 4:19 PM ^

I'm not opposed to the idea of a two tiered targeting system, but I dislike the idea of intent to determine the severity of targeting.  A player can tackle with poor form, making incidental targeting more likely, but no intent to target. That should still be a severe penalty;  the player caused the targeting with their poor decision.

IMO, targeting should only be given a weaker penalty if its unreasonable for the offending player to avoid the helmet contact due to circumstances outside of their control (e.g. they were blocked into the player, or the other player suddenly lowered their head).

That wording would (and should) be insufficient for actual rule creation, but I believe it demonstrates my point.

Hail Harbo

January 9th, 2019 at 4:21 PM ^

Defensive players victimized by targeting still need not apply.  Almost as bad is that an offensive player can initiate contact with the head and the defensive player can be, and will be, charged with targeting.


January 9th, 2019 at 4:27 PM ^

Agree with others on this.  The system does need to be reviewed.  It's extremely inconsistent and seems to only apply to the defense.

If they are truly concerned, offensive players would have calls go against them as well.

I'd be interested to see how many calls went against each team this past season




January 9th, 2019 at 4:37 PM ^

Suspensions should be determined on Sunday after a lengthy review. And no watching in slow mo replay. If you cant see the wrong doing in the hit in real time how the hell is the player supposed to.

M-B Devil Dog

January 9th, 2019 at 4:39 PM ^

I'm so torn on this because there have been MANY games I've seen calls called targeting and you can see it was not malicious intent, example I think the Texas game and Georgia where a Texas player was going in to tackle low and another player hit the WR first and moved him down where the second player accidentally hit him. BUT I think targeting needs to be penalized, I agree with the multiple Targeting 2 type calls calling for a player to be removed for multiple games or some kind of bad punishment. In soccer if you get a yellow card you HAVE to come off the field, I don't see why we can't do something like this already with personal fouls. the hitting out of bounds, the late hits, etc. before you say I'm soft, I played football in the 80's/90's and didn't think we had a problem and I played Rugby, I like vicious hits but the stuff that clearly is to make a statement has to go. 


January 9th, 2019 at 4:42 PM ^

For people saying the tiered system won't deter it enough, i just don't agree.  a 15-yard penalty is a big deal.  Players will get chewed out by coaches if they do it any more than occasionally by accident.  And if anyone does anything ridiculous, the refs can still toss them.  

Anything is better than the "spin the wheel and see what happens" rule that is in place now.  


January 9th, 2019 at 4:55 PM ^

As a football official that actually does some college games (not FBS) I fully support this. Part of the problem with the system is that they try to make things TOO black and white. What should happen is conferences should hire officials and hold them accountable for not only whether or not they know the rules but HOW they enforce them. You hire these guys because they’ve gone through a selection process and worked their way up. Generally speaking, they know what they’re doing so let them enforce the rules as the game dictates. If they do a consistently poor job then you replace them.  Too much black and white handcuffs people into ignoring the obvious. 

Blue Middle

January 9th, 2019 at 5:50 PM ^

I like this better than the current rule, but agree with those championing a yellow/red card system.

Any targeting--intentional or not--should carry the 15-yard penalty.  Persistent offenses--intentional or not--should warrant ejection, though the "crown" of the helmet should go back to being the actual top and not the sides, as the current definition actually discourages good, "heads-up" tackling.  If you're hitting with your head up and an opponent drops their head or moves their target area, that is not cause for an ejection.

Any intentional targeting should carry the 15-yard penalty plus an ejection.  Repeated offenses should carry even stiffer suspensions.