Last week, the Big Ten sent a video to league media to break down how the replay process will work with targeting in 2019.
The call on the field isn’t changing, but the review process is.
For a player to be disqualified and the targeting call enforced, all elements of a targeting foul must be confirmed by replay. If any element can’t be confirmed, then the call will be overturned.
There is no basis now for “stands,” as in “the call stands.” That means the close call made on the field that can’t be confirmed in replay will not be a disqualifying penalty. Nine times out of 10, if you saw the flag for targeting at the end of the play, it was going to end up in a disqualification. Now, review has to confirm. That might shrink the number of DQ’d players.
Here’s more on the replay process with targeting. There are two types of targeting fouls. There’s 9-1-3 (contact with the crown of the helmet) and 9-1-4 (applies only to a defenseless player) in the rule book.
After that, is there an indicator of targeting?
— Did the player launch to attack with forcible contact?
— Did the player crouch and follow with forward, upward thrust to attack with forcible contact?
— Did the player lead with the helmet, shoulder or arm with forcible contact to the head/neck area?
— Did the player lower his head to attack with the crown of the helmet?
If the replay official finds an indicator, then he must decide if the contact is forcible with the crown of the helmet or was the contact forcible to the head and neck area.
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If the answers are yes, then it’s targeting. If the replay official can’t confirm any of those elements, then the play will be overturned.
Any player throwing or receiving is considered a “defenseless” player. The crown of the helmet is more than just the top. It’s the area above the face mask and goes 360 degrees around the helmet. A pass rusher can lead with his hands to knock a QB down, but not the helmet, shoulder or arm.
“We want solid, solid targeting calls, it’s that simple,” said Bill Carollo, director of Big Ten officials. “We don’t want calls on the edge. The players only get 12 games.”
If a player gets three targeting calls in a season, that player will be held out of the next game after the third foul takes place. It’s a cumulative thing now.
Overtime has changed for 2019. Last season’s seven-overtime game between LSU and Texas A&M probably prompted this, but after the fifth OT, the field will be shrunk from the 25-yard line to the 3, for what basically will be a two-point conversion attempt. Overtimes will start from the 25 through the fourth OT. Teams will have to go for a two-point conversion in the third and fourth OTs.
Forcible contact on any blindside block now will be considered a personal foul. On kickoff, two-man wedge blocks are now illegal and will result in a 15-yard penalty.
Like in basketball with flagrant fouls, officials did discuss “targeting I” and “targeting II.”
“We want to be firm on this,” Carollo said. “‘Stands,’ we’re probably going to lose 10 percent of guys getting kicked out. But that’s good, it’s not backing away and it’s making sure we get it right.”
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The Big Ten’s 250 officials and 50 replay officials got their final marching orders from Carollo’s staff around the same time as Big Ten media days, mid-July. So, everything starts out consistently. Carollo knows it won’t stay that way. He sends out a “targeting/player safety” tape every weeks.
“Players’ health and safety is at risk,” Carollo said. “If I let my officials ‘wild, wild, west’ and do what they want to do, they won’t be working.”
Also, for point of clarity, the other officials (all of them, from the umpire to the back judge) do put together a 15- to 20-play tape every week on the calls they made from their spots. There’s also a national video every week.
This might seem “small,” but the example Carollo used to illustrate this scrutiny was pants without knee pads being worn above the knee.
A Big Ten crew worked the national title game between Clemson and Alabama. Lots of players in that game with pants that needed to be changed. Carollo said they let that one slide.
“We didn’t throw anyone out, so we’re inconsistent, blame me,” he said. “I didn’t call down to the field to tell 87 to get out. Don’t trouble ‘trouble.’ We had a big discussion and didn’t change the rule. We have to manage it a little better and be consistent.”
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