Player Safety: How Will New Targeting Foul Change College Football?
BY: John “Hennry” Harris
The revelation of CTE and the lifelong implications of repeated concussions has sent a shockwave through the sports world putting more focus on concussion protocol and player safety – ultimately changing the way football is played.
The change started on the professional level, seemingly overnight penalizing once legal helmet-to-helmet hits into “cheap shots” and 15-yard penalties.
This season, we will now see a marked change in the college game in the form of targeting.
What is targeting?
No one can specifically point to what targeting means, but it is partially defined by the NCAA as using the shoulder to hit the head or neck area of a receiver who is in the middle of catching a pass.
Giving more power to the targeting rule, replay officials have been given the authority, responsibility even, to targeting penalties in the event of on-field officials missing the call.
However, during the No. 11 University of Texas‘ thrilling victory over No. 18 Notre Dame, 47-50, Fighting Irish wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr. was completely leveled by the Longhorns’ DeShon Elliott in what seemed to be a letter for letter definition of targeting.
It was a huge non-call, because it would have given Notre Dame a first and goal.
Not only was the call not made by the on-field officials, but it was also not called by the instant replay officials, who essentially have even more responsibility for making the call because they can inspect every angle of an on-field targeting call to ensure the foul is enforced.
Instant replay officials had more than ample time to review the play as Hunter, Jr. remained on the ground for a several minutes as team trainers did an excellent job of assessing the wideout’s injuries before escorting him to the sideline.
In my mind, based on the way I was taught how to play the sport of football, the play was a legitimate hit.
It will be interesting to see how this new rule will change the landscape of the game, especially in highly-contested games with National Championship implications.
BOSSes, the targeting hit was obviously missed during the Texas vs. Notre Dame contest, but do you see this new rule effecting teams throughout the rest of the season?
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