With Great Targeting Comes Great Responsibility, and Those Calls Are About to Get Much More Impactful

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OleTimbo's picture

Safety is definitely important but I really hate the calls where the ball carrier is lowering his head to the point where there is contact to the neck or helmet. That should be considered when "reviewing" it

At least we're not from Detroit...

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BuckeyeBen7.7's picture

Personal opinion: targeting is a necessary rule.

Also personal opinion: it should be applied somewhat sparingly and only to hits that involve an obvious attempt at taking someone’s head off or hitting with the crown of the helmet. It’s football, and contact to or with the head will happen. Hitting with the face mask is safe and taught by most schools. If the defender goes low to avoid contact and the WR dives and gets hit in the head, can’t punish the defender who tried to do it right. The targeting rule is necessary but way over used.

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BuckeyeRealist13's picture

This is the correct opinion. 

2x account suspension survivor 

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AnaheimBuck's picture

Agree.  Football became extremely popular due to it being, in part, a very hard hitting sport and somewhat violent.  It is a person's right to choose to play in such a sport or not.  We don't need the NCAA to be a parent and decide what's safe for us or not.

AnaheimBuck

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Hovenaut's picture

There's never going to be a finite answer.

But that's the game now...and it has to evolve with regard to player safety, period.

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Dillon G's picture

What about when someone isn’t invited to a BBQ?

#walkaway

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Darksungm's picture

The effect of the hit has too large of an impact. If the Maryland kid doesn't reenact the Matrix Ward doesn't get ejected. The criteria should be based on the actions of the person being penalized and not the outcome.

God bless and go Bucks.

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Steelydan54's picture

Good effort to tackle a "third rail" subject. Targeting is here to stay because the alternative is to ban football altogether.  Don't forget, It almost happened once before. So we need to make it effective and fair. Agree with the three strikes rule for offenders; that's low hanging fruit. The change in application I'd propose is that refs should call what they see, understanding that with targeting, often times what you see is not what happened due to the speed of the game. So video replay and final ruling is a must; but the onus should be in the reviewers to prove that it actually happened, not that it didn't as appears to be the case now. There are plenty of clear cut targeting violations, but also plenty of sketchy calls that should not result in penalty. So far, the NCAA is taking a "call everything" approach and only if it's a clear miss-call do they overturn. I propose to get the refs "call everything" and the replay be forced to validate the call with clear and convincing evidence. Of course this implies several video cameras at all games, which is expensive, but doable. Over time, the refs will get better at calling clear targeting violations due to the number of overturned calls, but are unlikely to miss more due to the pressure to make the game safer. The current practice is based in litigation avoidance, not common football sense, and we can do better. 

Steelybuck54

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Buck298's picture

It’s also a matter of basic physics. The “back in my day” players were smaller and slower typically. So for those who think we have wussified the sport, in many ways, there is a distinct difference in the potential impact injuries of today versus the 1960’s. 

Players and tactics have evolved and so must the rules. 

Send the Earth Reverberating

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AnaheimBuck's picture

The "back in the day" players also did not have the protective equipment that is worn today.  We don't need people or organizations or governments to be baby-sitters who decide what is good and safe for us.  God gave all of us a nickel to handle a pennies worth of problems.  We need manage our own situations and live with the consequences and learn from our mistakes.

AnaheimBuck

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OHBoy74's picture

It would be okay if they actually followed the rule.  How many times have I seen a defensive player lead with the shoulder and then the resulting impact causes a helmet-to-helmet contact but they uphold targeting?  How many times does a defender attempt to go low, but the offensive player goes lower causing the helmet-to-helmet contact? 

Haters gonna hate and Bert is gonna Bert.

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Buxki84's picture

I agree. If you lead with your shoulder and make contact with your helmet, how can you avoid it? The head is in proximity to the shoulders. It's almost impossible to hit a guy in the chest with your shoulder without a part of your helmet hitting something. Are you supposed to lead with your shoulder while turning your head away?

Are you supposed to come to a dead stop before you try to wrap a guy up?

So, maybe they want tackles below the waist which carries it's own risk to the head of the tackler.

The only other way is to tackle is to do it with your hands only, but ball carriers are just too strong to be able to do that with any consistency.

I'd rather be a minute early than an hour early, 'cause I like to procrastinate.

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CowCat's picture

Helmets make the area around the head larger. That means there are going to be many plays where helmet-to-helmet contact is inevitable, even if players are taught to tackle properly.

Also, the speed of the game makes a perfect tackle difficult, as players are flying at each other from different angles.

There were already rules against leading with your helmet / spearing an opponent. If a player is not blatantly and consistently doing that, I don't believe they should be ejected. It's a violent game and things happen.

"We get paid to score touchdowns, not kick field goals"
-- Urban Meyer

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bakerjon's picture

Hurt. My. Feelings!

Boy, I got vision and the rest of the world wears bifocals! - Butch Cassidy

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BigJoe21's picture

This rule is so broken. Player safety is the priority, but removing the player from the game and suspending them half the next is just wrong. Many of these kids have 40-50 if games if they are extremely lucky and then it’s gone. To rob a player of a game is just wrong. Even more sad when you remember that removing and suspending the player doesn’t negate the play in which safety was breached

Our Honor Defend

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Extramedium's picture

It’s only wrong if they don’t deserve it. The problem with this rule is that it seems to be called 9/10 times when circumstances result in helmet to helmet contact... sometimes when it’s actually the actions of the offensive player that cause the contact.

often it’s called when a hit just looks “too hard” and gets a reaction from the crowd.  

Cases of players intentionally targeting a defenseless player with the crown of their helmet are very few and far between.  But if there is a player going around doing that, they absolutely deserve to be suspended

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southalabamabuckeye's picture

What bothers me about the NCAA's new targeting guidelines isn't the idea of the penalty itself, it's the idea that suspending players for often misapplied infractions will make the sport as a whole safer in the long-run.

 I agree, Johnny. I also believe ball carriers should be held accountable if they are initiating the helmet to helmet contact. If a defender is avoiding head and neck contact and the ball carrier is lowering his head and neck, then there should be no penalty on the defender. This could be helped by the offensive players being taught to keep their eyes up to not create a negative impact. That said, there has to be football people making these decisions about targeting who understand the game and nuances that a non-football person does not understand.

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BucksHave7's picture

The word Targeting itself implies the guilty party knowingly went after the victim in an intent to harm manner.  

Unfortunately the way the officials enforce the rule, seems that 90% of the time time, the guilty party didn’t mean to hit the victim in a targeting manner.  

This needs to somehow be built into it all and it’s not.  

BucksHave7

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gobucks96's picture

It feels like the people making the rules have not played the game before.

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ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

I don't have an issue with further punishment for players repeatedly ejected (correctly) for targeting.  I don't recall any OSU player getting ejected more than once in a single season (and in a career for that matter since it was implemented in 2013).

The problem is that while well-intentioned, we've repeatedly seen the NCAA and its officials make the wrong call when it comes to targeting, and as seen above they admitted as such when it came to the case of Denzel Ward.

So then if they figure out later that it was a bad call, you don't count it towards a suspension.  Vacate it like you'd do victories (for NCAA violations) that you know happened if you watched them.

I still prefer a common sense determination of targeting over an overly defined set of criteria.

Class of 2010.

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Lighteyes's picture

Yeah, the "three targeting calls and you're suspended" actually appears unlikely to ever really be relevant.

First off, any call that's overturned wouldn't count - whether it's overturned during the game or later deemed to be incorrect (a'la Ward). So we're really talking about three legitimate targeting calls in a season. In a season that ranges between 12 and 15 games, we're effectively saying that you personally got ejected from 20%+ of your team's games. That instinctively seems crazy high.

Let's look at some data: ESPN prepared an article from the 2017 season (couldn't find a similar dataset for 2018) which reported an average of 0.23 targeting calls per game, which works out to 0.115 targeting calls per team per game. This basically means the average team has either 1 or 2 ejections over the entire course of the season. So effectively, the suspension only comes into play if your team has one player who single-handedly gets more targeting ejections than the typical entire team. If you're that much of an outlier, then yeah, you just might deserve a full one-game suspension.

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Sanitarian2's picture

Third targeting call and you're out for a game, that's really only a half more than you'd be out anyway unless that's in excess of the regular half game penalty.

Sani

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You can't spell chump without UM's picture

But they also changed the rule that you cannot say a targeting call stands without proof that it happened. It's essentially now innocent till proven guilty. An example would've been Bradley Roby's call against Iowa. He wouldn't have gotten tossed, because they couldn't prove he committed the foul.

Tom Brady lost to John Cooper. Never forget.

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SackMan's picture

What about in the sport of basketball, where every few games I see a player fall from 10 feet in the air and smash their head off the hardwood floor at G forces guaranteed to cause a concussion, then they hop back up and keep playing for the rest of the game with a swollen brain.

Where is the outrage about this?

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ibuck's picture

 at G forces guaranteed to cause a concussion, then they hop back up and keep playing for the rest of the game with a swollen brain.

I'm pretty sure concussion protocol is followed in all sports now, even women's sports (though I'm amazed women's lacrosse players don't wear helmets.). 

Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

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Buck298's picture

There is incidental contact in women’s lacrosse to be sure. But the rules for women regarding checking are substantially different than for the men. The men’s game is a full contact sport. Thus the helmet  

In regard to contact to the head, would liken the women’s lax closer to that of soccer or basketball. 

Send the Earth Reverberating

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ronaprhys's picture

If we want to make the game safer, there's another idea out there.  Remove much of the armor they wear now.  Look at rugby for inspiration here.  They can scrum with lightly-padded helmets (or just taped ears, at times) and don't seem to have near the injuries.  Now, before I get lambasted for this, think about it.  What player is going to launch themselves at another player if they're not wearing armor that distributes the force over their torso?  None - because leading with your shoulder like that will likely end up breaking a clavicle, separating/dislocating a shoulder, etc.  

This doesn't turn the game into rugby at all - tackling still exists, the other rules stay the same, etc.  You could even keep kick-offs and all of the other stuff.  Just pull the armor off.  It's not like the precedent for it does't exist - look back at football prior to the 40s. 

'97 - Molecular Genetics

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Extramedium's picture

It’s an interesting theory.. my main problem with comparing the 40s to now though is the size and athleticism of today’s athletes in comparison.  It’s not the same game when you had 6’2” 205 lb linemen out there.

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wojodta's picture

Ejections should only ever happen for fighting, throwing punches, etc. No one should ever be ejected for a hit. I'd rather someone stay in the game after a dirty hit (which I feel rarely ever happens; people act like dirty hits happen constantly but they don't), than someone get ejected on BS call. Making the targeting rule better is simple. Just get rid of the damn ejection component. 

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CALPOPPY's picture

There are not as many dirty hits because they started to call targeting. How many OSU receivers did Jay Valai take out during his tenure at Wisconsin?

I’m at the opposite side as I would have wanted someone like him to be him thrown out of the game because they were dirty hits that were, at the time, called “good” plays. But Valai had no intention of tackling someone but was trying to pop off their helmet.

Memento mori

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ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

I think a nice compromise would be ejection on the 2nd targeting hit of the game.  The first one is a penalty and a warning.  2nd - gone.  Unless the 1st one was extraordinarily bad.

Class of 2010.

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Extramedium's picture

Truly dirty hits need to be punished, and players need to be removed from games, or the sport entirely if they don’t stop doing it.  You said yourself they are exceedingly rare and obvious when they happen.  I don’t think incidental contact between helmets when the defender is clearly trying to do the right thing should be considered dirty or considered targeting,  The very word “targeting” implies intent to harm and a dirty hit to begin with.

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Waterbeagle's picture

It’s like fine art , I can’t tell you what it is, but I know it when I see it...Wards wasn’t it and most that I’ve seen are very weak.  

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Buckaroo Banzai's picture

If the officials on the field AND the replay booth officials can ignore this, then I have no confidence that the rule can ever be applied uniformly, much less correctly. Ever.

I mean really - Kat Bryant charges with helmet lowered, launches and makes direct helmet-to-helmet contact that snaps Jake Browning's head around like he just caught a fleeting glimpse of a passel of naked Victoria's Secret models out of the corner of his right eye. The hit laid Browning out on his belly like a gaffed tarpon on the fantail of a boat. And they were alone in the backfield, the focus of every pair of eyes in the stadium. Except, apparently, the officials were busy gawking at that imaginary herd of naked Victoria's Secret models, inasmuch as not one of them saw it.

Bobbing for french fries.

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ibuck's picture

Interesting imagery: models, fish, boat parts.  

Football seems to have a lot of components I wasn't aware of.

Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

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Rascall's picture

If a player faces a 1 game suspension for targeting, an official (and all involved) should also face a 1 game suspension for making an errand call like the one with D. Ward or the lack of a call where there obviously should have been one. They have replay to see it clearly.

The rule would quickly be defined accurately.

From now on, ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I shall not put.

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Jerseyboy7's picture

I have never liked the idea of ejecting a player for a subjective call!
Maybe we should look at what the NHL does in their games. Put the player in the penalty box for 5 to 15 minutes. Then go the extra mile and have the penalized team play a man short for the same amount of time!

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Extramedium's picture

It’s really not that subjective when called and defined properly.  It’s pretty obvious when a player is tackling the wrong way or intentionally launching themselves in such a manner as to cause a helmet to helmet hit.  But it’s also just as obvious when the replay clearly shows a WR lowering his helmet to meet a defender who is leading with his shoulder, doing it the right way, and their heads bump.  

I think that’s where the new “innocent until proven guilty” mentality will help out.  As long as the refs are properly trained, which is a big IF

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stpetebuck's picture

Unnecessary roughness and personal fouls type calls have been around for decades. So the lattice for tweaking rules to make the game safer has been there my entire life. It’s crazy rules have changed so slowly. 

But mentioned above these players are faster and way stronger. So yep, the rules need to evolve especially knowing the long term effects of repeated concussions. No brainer,, pun not intended. 

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FrankTheGrimes's picture

I get trying to reduce injuries but if safety is our #1 concern then we wouldnt have a football team.  I hate people who say safety is the number one concern about a game predicated on men bashing into eachother. Not once have i heard the coversation about the regular helmet to helmet contact that goes on along the line every single play.  I get i am in the minoroty but the hypocrisy is baffeling.   

“Feeling cold is psychological” -Woody

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David3000's picture

Great comment and I agree wholeheartedly. Words are cheap and actions mean everything. I.e. "safety", "brotherhood", etc.

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BuckeyeRealist13's picture

The sport #1, safety #2 or #3. The sport has to come first. 

2x account suspension survivor 

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ibuck's picture

a game predicated on men bashing into each other

Disagree. Touch football is a wonderful game—and without bashing.

Some men have a tendency to make a sport more physical, even ones designed for limited-contact, like basketball. Especially men who are less agile/talented, and frustrated by less brawny players who are. Rules are often designed to keep a contest from devolving into a slugfest. If martial arts are your thing, fine. But every other sport doesn't have to be reduced to that.

Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

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Poco Loco's picture

Go back to leather helmets.

a hard rock miner from Butte, Montana

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JimmyVanP's picture

#FreeDenzel

"I feel ready for whatever awaits me on the other side. I don’t fear adversity. I don’t fear the spotlight. I don’t fear success. And I don’t fear failure." - Braxton Miller

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Trebor40's picture

Player safety and lots of freedom for offense is the way seats get filled particularly by the women who have grown to love this sport in amazing numbers. Yet it has contributed to the rise of football camp style football and seven on seven play. 

I would rather be on hand with 10 men then elsewhere with 10,000 - Timur Lenk

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allinosu's picture

Rugby leads for the most concussions per 1000 player %. Football is second but close behind football is Women's hockey. I was surprised that soccer wasn't that far behind which was also figured to have to most unreported (for some reason) injuries. I think ejections is a necessary deterrent if we really want a safer sport but I also think the booth should determine it without the field judge. 

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Trebor40's picture

I completely agree, initial call from field (personal foul - no other wording) targeting from the booth

I would rather be on hand with 10 men then elsewhere with 10,000 - Timur Lenk

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allinosu's picture

Replay was used originally to correct obvious really bad mistakes. If you have to do slow motion, then it should be left alone. It would speed things up considerably. If they can't see targeting or other calls quickly then let it go.

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gobucks96's picture

Can we get something about the specific targeting the Clemson players were doing a few years ago while we are at it?
 

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BuckeyeinFlorida's picture

Better coaches - better results.

Speaking of Clemson, they just got a commitment from a 5 star RB from Lakeland Florida. Their 3rd 5 star.

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Trebor40's picture

And no pursuit of team officials after doping player suspensions! 

I would rather be on hand with 10 men then elsewhere with 10,000 - Timur Lenk

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BuckeyeRealist13's picture

The sport itself should be protected above all else. The integrity of the game should be #1 above all else. 

2x account suspension survivor 

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BuckNut_1974's picture

The health of players has to take precedence over anything else, not just for the protection of the people who play the sport, but for the long-term health of the sport itself.

 If that were truly the case, football wouldn't exist. I'm tired of people saying this but not really meaning it. Football is inherently dangerous and if you play it, more than likely, you WILL have long term health problems. No matter how "safe" the rules try to make it.

Is targeting a penalty caused by anger or frustration, and therefore the fault of the player? Or is targeting caused by years of bad coaching and reinforcement of bad habits, and therefore the fault of coaches and staff?

 I say its the latter. To many coaches aren't teaching proper tackling techniques at all levels of football.

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NOBLUE's picture

flag football or touch is the answer to ensure total safety

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Extramedium's picture

But then you still will have sprained ankles and twisted knees. We can’t have that

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TJG32's picture

“You got barbecue back there and you didn’t invite me?  Hurt my feelings”.  One of my favorite Gus Johnson lines. 

TG Proud Buckeye alumnus.

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CanadianBuckeyeEh's picture

Agree with all the comments on targeting and players lower their heads to avoid targeting and ending up... targeting.  

BUT - they shouldn't mess with OVERTIME!   Leave it Alone!   
How many times have we needed 2OT or 3OT to win?!  LEAVE IT! 

"Be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else." - Judy Garland

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semperfibuck's picture

The NCAA cannot accurately predict where the sun will come up tomorrow.

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Go1Bucks's picture

Pussies. Period.
But if your gonna wussify the sport, get it right or don't call at all. Subject to replay every time by an oversight crew linked via satellite (et al...) that actually know the rules and how to interpret them correctly.

Go Bucks! TTUN tears are best! Beat Wisky!!!

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Tvcamper's picture

And then there is Noah Furbush's obvious targeting on Haskins that every official on the field missed. Automatically reviewing this in the booth may have overruled the ruling on the field.

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