What exactly is “targeting,” the foul that has bogged down countless college football games this fall? According to Mike Pereira, the NFL’s former vice president of officiating and Fox’s resident all-around expert on football rules, targeting in college football is when “you attack a defenseless [opponent] by making contact with your helmet, shoulder or forearm to his head or neck area. It’s also a targeting foul if a player initiates contact with the crown of his helmet.”
And here’s what happens when targeting is called:
- If a targeting foul is committed in the first half of a game, it’s a 15-yard penalty and that player is disqualified for that game.
- If a targeting foul is committed in the second half of a game, it’s a 15-yard penalty and that player is disqualified for the rest of that game plus the first half of the next game.
- If a targeting foul is called but a coach challenges a call and officials use instant replay to decide the player didn’t commit targeting, that player can stay in the game — but a 15-yard penalty is still assessed.
You’ll notice from that third item that things are already getting a little weird. Now let’s look at the calls.
Whoa. Clearly targeting. Not sure what that guy was thinking…
Hmmm… it’s a big blindside block, but I’m not sure if it’s targeting…
14. Called targeting but overturned on review.
Not sure why this was called in the first place. Both players were going for the ball and collided with each other. Remember, all the teams below who had targeting penalties revoked still had to take a 15-yard loss on the original call.
18. Called targeting but overturned on review.
Now, this one looks like the defender DID use his head on purpose.
To review, there seemed to be something obviously wrong (or at least questionable) with 17 of the 22 examples we could find. There’s no way this rule sticks around for another season, right? There’s just no way something this inconsistent and controversial can last.
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