FBS Coaches Unanimously Support Splitting Targeting Calls into 2 Tiers

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJanuary 9, 2019

FILE - In this Nov. 3, 2018, file photo, Ohio State defensive back Jordan Fuller tackles Nebraska tight end Kurt Rafdal during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, in Columbus, Ohio. Fuller was ejected from the game for a targeting penalty on the play. The NCAA says the number of enforced targeting penalties in the Football Bowl Subdivision this regular season was the same as in 2017. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)
Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

If college football coaches have their way, targeting will no longer be an automatic ejection on every call.

According to Adam Rittenberg of ESPN.com, Todd Berry, the executive director of the American Football Coaches Association, said FBS coaches unanimously supported a new enforcement system for targeting calls during their annual meeting. 

While players are ejected from the current game and suspended for the first half of the next game if the foul occurs in the second half under the system in place, the coaches prefer a model with Targeting 1 and Targeting 2 calls. The Targeting 1 calls would be 15-yard penalties with no ejections, while the Targeting 2 calls would result in an ejection.

Berry compared the desired system to flagrant fouls in basketball, and parallels can be made between this and the red/yellow card system in soccer as well.

This would decrease the number of ejections and suspensions throughout a college football season, although Berry said some coaches have suggested multiple Targeting 2 penalties from the same player throughout a single campaign could result in a multi-game suspension.

"I don't think we're getting light on targeting," Berry said. "If anything, we're becoming harsher in a sense because we're asking for those ones that we know are targeting. We're saying, 'Hey, we want these people eliminated for longer periods of time until they can learn, and if they can't learn, they need to be eliminated from the game.'"

The intent of the targeting penalty was a point of emphasis in the discussions, with the malicious ones being classified as Targeting 2.

Although there was unanimous support from the coaches at the meeting, this change will not be implemented in time for the 2019 season. Rittenberg noted the earliest such a change could go into place is the 2020 campaign because an FBS conference has to submit a proposal to get the rule changed.

Berry wants it on the legislative agenda by October of this year and will discuss it during January’s NCAA convention.

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