There are a lot of things that I have been extra critical over involving the NCAA throughout the years. Whether it’s the millions that schools make on student athletes who can’t even have someone take them to lunch, or the rule that makes players come off the field for a play when their helmet comes off, the reality is that there is always something disappointing about NCAA rules.
However, even with all of that I don’t think there is a single rule that has frustrated me more than the new targeting rule. By now most of you know about this rule, where a player “targets” the head or neck area of a defenseless player.
The team suffers a fifteen yard penalty and the offending player is ejected from the game.
Before I go any further I fully understand the reason behind this new rule. I understand that it is a gesture made to make the game safer. However, I do feel that there are far too many discrepancies with this new rule.
Essentially, officials have been told to hold true to what the rule says, meaning that if a player is charged with targeting and they review it (which I will certainly discuss later) and the player made contact with the defenseless player above the shoulders then it is still targeting, even if there was no malicious intent at all.
This year there have been too many defensive players who have been charged with targeting and been ejected from the game. There was a few this past week that I want to point out.
Let’s start with the one that most people are extremely upset about. UGA’s linebacker Ray Drew was charged with targeting and ejected from this past Saturday’s contest at Vanderbilt when he hit Vandy’s quarterback late.
If you haven’t seen the play I suggest you go watch it, Drew was coming in late, but instead of roughing the passer he let up and bumped into the quarterback, he even raised his arms up to brace the minimal contact that was made. Anyone who saw the play will know what a joke of a penalty it was.
The worst part is that the officials reviewed the play and confirmed the call, having to hold true to the rule while overlooking and seeing that Drew had no malicious intent. Because of that Drew had to miss the remainder of the game, a game that Georgia lost by the way.
What doesn’t make sense to me is that they can review a targeting call and overturn whether the player has to be ejected or not, but still reward the 15 yards to the opposing team. There are so many issues with this rule; there isn’t enough time in the day to address all of them.
Ohio State was lucky to come out with a win this past Saturday against Iowa, but they had to do it without one of their best defensive players, Bradley Roby, who was also charged with targeting and ejected from the game on a penalty that looked nothing more than a good solid hit.
Roby led in with his shoulder and did make hard contact, but it was nothing more than an old fashion hit. The problem is that the NCAA is removing these types of plays that have made football great over the years.
Essentially, they are giving way too much leverage to the offensive side of the ball.
I understand the rule and believe that it can be a good rule when enforced the right way, but there has to be more discretion in calling this penalty. At times it is obvious when a player should be called for targeting.
Earlier this season a player for Oregon was ejected with targeting on a blatantly obvious targeting penalty, I am fine with things like that.
But when players are ejected from games for playing too hard (while also remaining in control) then I have a problem with it. I am just afraid to see where the NCAA is going to go next.
Tyler Rollason is a Winder-Barrow High School graduate and mass communications major at the University of West Georgia. He writes a weekly sports column for the Barrow Journal. You can e-mail comments about this column to firstname.lastname@example.org.