Big 12 officiating supervisor Walt Anderson spent an hour Tuesday explaining what will likely be a very controversial targeting rule, which for the first time will include an automatic ejection for the offending player for the rest of that half and the subsequent half .
If the rule had been in place a year ago with automatic disqualification, Anderson said 17 players flagged for targeting would have been ejected although he added five of those would have been reversed upon further review. Under the new procedures, coaches do not have the ability to appeal and have calls overturned to prevent losing the penalized players for a second half.
Anderson showed a series of plays from last season where targeting was called, but it’s a fine edge in many cases, especially because so many offensive players go into a defensive position and lower their helmets prior to impact.
“It’s those types of unnecessary hits to the head that are clearly avoidable that really create the biggest problem,” Anderson said.
Anderson explained that targeting involves four different actions. Those are launch, thrust, strike, and leading with the crown of the helmet.
“What can we tell our guys to do?” Anderson said. “Lower your target zone. Keep your head up.”
He also clarified that officials will not call all helmet-to-helmet collisions as targeting penalties.
“There’s a lot of helmet‑to‑helmet contact in a football game,” he said. “As a matter of fact, most of the helmet‑to‑helmet contact in a football game, the vast majority of that is perfectly legal. It’s not a foul (and) shouldn’t be called. It’s the intentional helmet‑to‑helmet contacts or other body parts to the helmet that we’re working to try to eliminate.
“We want them to get (tackler’s) head down, out of the way, (and have them) lower their target zone.”
While the enforcement of the rule will be controversial, many felt it is necessary to preserve the safety of the players.
“Because the game is under attack, we will either work at changing this culture from within, or it will be worked at being changed from without,” he said, “and I don’t think anybody within the game will argue that we would much rather change it from within than have it changed for us from without by other people. Is it going to be difficult? Yes.”
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