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NCAA Tweaks Rules for Targeting, Fake Injuries Ahead of 2022 CFB Season

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVAugust 18, 2022

James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NCAA is instituting a number of rule changes for the upcoming college football season, including some that deal with targeting, the faking of injuries to stop the clock and slow no-huddle offenses.

The Associated Press shared the changes:

  • Players ejected in the second halves of games for targeting might not be suspended for the first half of the next game, depending on the results of an appeal.
  • Schools and conferences can report the potential faking of injuries to the national coordinator of officials, which could lead to penalties for the school involved.
  • Only linemen and stationary backs inside the tackle box can block below the waist.
  • Ball-carriers who simulate a feet-first slide, like then-Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett famously did in the ACC Championship Game, will be ruled down at the spot.
  • Defensive holding is an automatic first down in addition to the 10-yard penalty.
  • Replay officials can adjust the clock if a ruling is overturned with less than two minutes remaining in the game or first half.
  • Illegal touching by an ineligible player is a loss of down in addition to the five-yard penalty.

Perhaps the most notable change is the targeting one, as few things in college football draw more scrutiny and ire from fans, coaches and even broadcasters than the flag that leads to a 15-yard penalty and the automatic ejection of the infringing player.

There may not be a single penalty that can more drastically alter the outcome of a game, as all it takes is one star player to be ejected for it in the early going to leave a team fighting an uphill battle.

While this rule change won't impact the current game when there is a targeting penalty, the ability of conference offices to request reviews from the national coordinator of officials that could lead to the removal of the suspension in the first half of the next contest would limit the punitive aspect of it to just one game instead of multiple contests.

In the past, players who were ejected for targeting in the second half were forced to sit out the first half of the upcoming game.

There will still be plenty of scrutiny as officials and the NCAA at large attempt to balance efforts to minimize head injuries with the reality that not all targeting penalties are created equal.

Perhaps there may one day be something similar to a yellow- and red-card system in soccer where less egregious targeting penalties receive a warning instead of an automatic ejection and the more severe ones lead to immediate disqualification, but for now the changes are limited to the ability to review second-half calls, with an eye on the upcoming contest.

The 2022 college football season begins Aug. 27.

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