The NCAA's new targeting rule, which made waves all offseason for its quick-hook ejection policy, was called twice on opening night, once against Indiana State and once against Tulane.
The Indiana State hit was more gruesome, and unlike the Tulane one, it has been passed around the Internet in tidy video form. On a third-quarter punt, Sycamore's gunner Carlos Aviles got to Indiana's returner about three seconds too early and blew him up with a dirty hit:
According to the Big Ten Network, the new targeting rule is worded as follows:
- No player shall target and initiate contact vs. opponent with the crown [top] of his helmet.
- No player shall target and initiate contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent.
It's safe to say Aviles did both.
The game, at that point, was essentially out of hand and the hit probably definitely warranted ejection. Under the new targeting rule, that's exactly what happened; and because it occurred in the second half, Aviles will have to miss the first half of next week's game.
Hits like Aviles' are why the rule was conceived—to protect defenseless players from unnecessary (and malicious) hits to the head. It's nice to see it work to a tee.
But the Tulane ejection—the first one, chronologically, to occur under the new targeting rule—was a little more contentious.
No video has surfaced, but according to Scott Kushner of The Advocate, cornerback Lorenzo Doss was ejected in "absurd" fashion after hitting Jackson State's quarterback:
Our first targeting call of the year at the Superdome, #Tulane's Doss called for hammering the quarterback and is ejected. Absurd rule.— Scott Kushner (@ScottDKushner) August 30, 2013
It's hard to draw conclusions without seeing the play, but that sounds more like what people were worried about this offseason. It sounds more like what people expected after refs claimed the Jadeveon Clowney "Hit" would have warranted ejection in 2013.
Both games with targeting last night involved a lower-profile FBS team playing an FCS one, so it's not like the whole is in an uproar. But it provided fans with their first taste of how the rule will operate and—in Tulane's case—how quick the hook might be.
Once it gets called, questionably, in a blue-chip power conference game, there will be no hiding from the inevitable Twitter backlash.