Notre Dame's Stephon Tuitt is out of the game because he got called for violating the worst rule in college football—targeting. The worst part about the hit is that Pittsburgh's Tom Savage leaned into the hit and could have been called for the offensive side of the rule.
Pittsburgh stands a much better shot at winning the game because of the egregious call by the refs here. Without Tuitt in there dominating the B- and C-gaps, the Panthers will be able to run on Notre Dame much more effectively.
Losing Tuitt also hurts the pass rush because he has been looking like a top-15 pick with the way he takes double-teams. On top of that, he could split double-teams and helped create nine pressures and five sacks in their eight games so far.
The refs just robbed the Fighting Irish of the second-best player on their defense behind fellow lineman Louis Nix III. Targeting is the most misunderstood rule by college refs, and this was no different, as it was the incorrect call.
The whole point is to protect the player who is defenseless from taking a vicious hit to the head. Here's the exact verbiage of the rule (h/t NewsOK.com's Berry Tramel):
Rule 9-1-3: Targeting and initiating contact with the crown of the helmet. No player shall target and initiate contact against an opponent with the crown (top) of his helmet. When in question, it is a foul.
Rule 9-1-4: Targeting and initiating contact to head or neck area of a defenseless player. No player shall target and initiate contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent with the helmet, forearm, fist, elbow or shoulder. When in question, it is a foul.
Tuitt leaned in to hit a player who is shorter than him because he's 6'7". Savage leaned his helmet down to gain extra yardage on the play. The crowns of the helmets met. Both players—by rule—could have been called for the penalty.
Yet the Fighting Irish got screwed by a rule that is completely mismanaged and misappropriated. The punishment doesn't fit the crime, and at most, this should be a 15-yard penalty on one team. No players should have been ejected.
According to Pete Byrne of WSBT, Tuitt luckily will be able to play when the Irish take the field against BYU because the call happened in the first half. But the loss of the talented defender hurt them for the rest of the game against the Panthers.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!