UCLA defensive back Adarius Khyree was ejected from Saturday night's game against Stanford for a targeting penalty in the first quarter.
After the ejection, Khyree took to Twitter to protest the call:
The targeting rule—which leads to an ejection if a player is deemed to have either struck an opponent with the crown of his helmet or forcibly made contact with a defenseless opponent's head or neck area—has been a controversial one in college football this season.
On Saturday, for instance, Florida State linebacker Jacob Pugh attempted to block an NC State pass, and his hand struck receiver Gavin Locklear's head in the process. He was promptly ejected, a call FSU defensive end Josh Sweat did not understand.
"That Jake stuff, I don't know what that was. I don't know," he said after the game, per Danny Aller of Tomahawk Nation. "I mean, if you're trying to block the ball from being thrown. ... If we can't do that anymore, then how can we play football, know what I mean? If you get targeting for that? I don't know. I just don't know."
There were a number of other targeting calls on the day, including Purdue having two players ejected in its game against Michigan.
But while the rule has its detractors, it's also in place to protect players as head trauma and concussions continue to be major issues. The rule is in place to promote player safety and is unlikely to go away anytime soon. While there is a burden on referees to properly enforce the rule, there is also the burden on coaches to teach proper tackling technique and players to adhere to those techniques.
Coming into Week 4, the Bowl Subdivision had seen a 73 percent increase in targeting penalties, according to the Associated Press, a number that Big Ten coordinator of officials, Bill Carollo, found concerning.
"I fired off an email to a few people to say we need to do something about this," he said. "Let's not wait until the end of the season. Not let's wait to do a study. I don't have all the answers, but it needs to get to the level of commissioners, athletic directors and partnering with coaches."