The NCAA’s new penalties for targeting resulted in at least a half dozen ejections, including two that were later overturned, during the first weekend of the college football season.
NCAA coordinator of officials Rogers Redding said official totals on the number of targeting penalties would not be available until Tuesday. But Redding says the early returns seem to indicate there was not an uptick in the number of penalties called for targeting compared to last season.
He says in 2012 there was one penalty for intentionally targeting another players head with a hit for every eight games. There were at least six called during 75 FBS games this weekend.
Redding said he has reviewed some of the targeting calls and came away pleased.
“The videos I have seen of those, they were good calls,” he said.
Players from Texas A&M, Oregon, California, Tulane, Indiana State and Colorado State were flagged and ejected from games.
Colorado State linebacker C.J. James was penalized for a hit to Colorado quarterback Connor Wood on the final play of the first half. But a video review to determine if James’ hit was intentional overturned the ejection. Under the rule, the 15-yard penalty stood.
“The system worked the way it was supposed to in this case,” Colorado State coach Jim McElwain told reporters after the game.
The system did not work as well for Cal defensive end Chris McCain. He was ejected in the fourth quarter of a 44-30 loss to No. 22 Northwestern for a roughing the passer penalty against Trevor Siemian. But because of a technical failure, the play was never reviewed by the replay official.
Ejections for targeting that are confirmed by replay are not reviewable after the game by the conference or NCAA. But because this play was not reviewed in the game, the Pac-12 was allowed to look at the play and determined on Monday that McCain should not have been ejected. The league said the roughing the passer penalty was proper.
The Pac-12 said it consulted with the national coordinator of officials and both sides determined that McCain should be reinstated. The conference said the technical issues have been resolved and the replay crew has been disciplined for the breakdown in the process.
Four other players weren’t so lucky.
Texas A&M cornerback Deshazor Everett, Oregon cornerback Terrance Mitchell, Tulane cornerback Lorenzo Doss and Indiana State defensive back Carlos Aviles, who was playing against Indiana.
The penalties on Everett and Aviles came in the second half, which means they will also have to sit out the first half of their team’s next game.
Everett will probably not be missed much this week. Texas A&M plays Sam Houston State.
“That’s a learning experience. I would imagine there will be a few of those calls now,” A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said after the game. “With the enforcement of the new rule that’s what’s going to happen. So we have to adjust as coaches and players because that’s the way it’s going to be called and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Most coaches have expressed concerns about how the targeting rule will be called and if ejecting a player is too harsh a penalty for a call that can be so difficult to make.
Count former NFL VP of Officiating Mike Pereira, who now works as an analyst for Fox, among the skeptics.
“If anything, the opening week proved to me that this new enforcement misses the target,” he wrote in a blog. “I would have left enforcement the way it was — a 15-yard personal foul. Period.”