“Right now, it’s radioactive.”

As it stands, there are two primary motivations behind the targeting protocol:  player safety (or, perhaps more accurately, fear of losing multiple concussion lawsuits) and ass-covering officiating crews.

“It was my understanding based upon the information that was passed upon us at the board meeting that [the review] was a little bit of a protection for the officials,” Berry said…

Why do the officials need protection?  Because the NCAA wanted a hair-trigger response on the field and knew that officials would be reluctant to react in that way without some structural support.  That’s how you get to a mindset of “when in doubt, throw the flag” for a penalty that can lead to the ejection of a player or a 15-yard mark-off even if no infraction occurred.  There’s nothing else in college football that’s approached in a similar manner.

And for all those who believe that some of the calls we saw this weekend will have to lead to a re-evaluation of enforcement of the targeting rules, how do you address this?

Added Richt: “I’m sure a lot of people would say if you’re reviewing it, why don’t you go ahead and change the penalty if it was called incorrectly? Maybe you can just have it in that wrong case. We’re talking about a safety rule. That might make sense. I can understand why they didn’t want to do it because they didn’t want to open up a Pandora’s Box on that because if you review that then why don’t you review pass interference, why don’t you review all kind of stuff like that? It would just take too much time. Since you are reviewing it anyway, it might be one that they make an exception for in the future.”

The SEC hasn’t commented about the targeting calls on Georgia beyond putting out a release during the game detailing rule 9-1-4, with certain words capitalized.

Shaw told The Birmingham News earlier this month: “Maybe we look at making the targeting foul a special case where we allow replay to come into that judgment and say if only targeting is involved, and it’s not deemed targeting, we could take away that 15-yard penalty. But that crosses into a very slippery slope of officiating from the booth. A lot of purists have never wanted us to go over that line.”

Slippery slopes and Pandora’s Boxes.  Those don’t make for simple solutions.  The NCAA wants those calls to be made as proof it’s serious about concussion issues.  Officials are going to be more reluctant to judge those plays in the aggressive manner the NCAA wants if they feel they’re going to be broadly second-guessed by the replay official (who’s under the same pressure as the guys on the field, by the way, except that he doesn’t have the in-the-moment excuse in the booth).

My bet is that we’re going to see some version of Todd Berry’s two-penalty suggestion…

Berry said even if a targeting penalty is overturned, he could still see the reasoning for yards being marked off because there still could be two fouls on the same play — for instance a late hit along with targeting.

“There could be two fouls within the same play and we need to view it along those lines,” he said. “That’s my opinion. … I need to actually hear some more information in terms of clarifying my own mind about why they did what they did because obviously from a common sense standpoint, it doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

… offered as a solution that in reality won’t solve the problem, because then the officials will simply be told “when in doubt, call two penalties”.

If you’re looking for a fair solution, I’m afraid you’ve come to the wrong place.  Fairness isn’t the NCAA’s strong suit.


UPDATE:  More from Steve Shaw.

“Our game is absolutely under attack, there’s no question about that,” Shaw said. “Even the president of the United States said, ‘If I had a son, I’m not sure I’d let him play football.’ We may pass that off, but those are impactful words. There’re a lot of people out there with lawsuits. The NFL has just settled a lawsuit, but it’s not over. That’s just the first stage.”

At least he’s honest about it.


Filed under The NCAA

61 responses to ““Right now, it’s radioactive.”

  1. This rule is the worst thing for college football since the latest round of conference expansion and realignment. The NCAA, the conferences, and officials are officially in damage and spin control mode now.

  2. DugLite

    Oh college football how I love thee, but you are making it real hard.

  3. Scorpio Jones, III

    I don’t know about Pandora’s box, I never even kissed her.

    • Scorpio Jones, III

      So I don’t understand how a bad rule, subjectively enforced, does anything to protect anyone. All the bad rule does is expose the officials to constant and unending criticism when they are just doing, as they see it, what they are supposed to do.

      If there is any doubt, shoot the fleeing felon…we are taping you, so we got yer back.

      I get the intent, which is, as the Senator and others have pointed out, to protect the NCAA from more law suits, not to protect the players. As has been pointed out there are equipment changes available that would help reduce head injuries.

      It is interesting that Nike and others are happy to provide pink helmets, but do not seem to offer a new and improved helmet that addresses head injuries…maybe these things ain’t pretty in pink.

      The forces of darkness continue to destroy college football.

      But on a personal level, if I am committed to the G, should I be committed?

  4. hailtogeorgia

    As you say, the two penalties would seem to make sense, but I think you’d be hard pressed to have an official who would call targeting without calling a personal foul. By definition, it would seem that targeting and a personal foul would always go hand in hand, the same way anything else that is an affront to player safety (facemask, horsecollar, etc.) does.

    • Ben

      That seems like it would work in Drew’s case, but what’s the case for the Wilson penalty? That was clean by every standard in the game, but I could have at least understood a “roughing the passer” penalty on Drew. It would have been a ticky-tack call, but at least it would have been one that made sense.

      The refs have missed so many targeting calls this year (the hit on Barber in the endzone vs UT comes to mind), but the ones they make so rarely seem to be legitimate. And now that it’s finally happened to our guys, it’s maddening, especially in a game that we needed to win and should have won.

      • hailtogeorgia

        Yeah, there’s no real excuse for the Wilson penalty other than it was a hard hit. That’s the issue here – even if there were two penalties, I can’t imagine a referee seeing the Wilson hit, throwing a flag for targeting, and not also throwing a flag for a personal foul, if that makes any sense.

        It would make more sense to me if the targeting penalty included the personal foul, and upon further review, the replay official could choose to uphold one or both parts (i.e., in Drew’s case, no ejection for targeting, but PF stands, whereas in Wilson’s case, the ejection is revoked, as well as the PF).

      • TEXAS DAWG

        I think Jack Lambert or Steelers fame had the right idea. If they area going to continue to remove contact from the game then let them all wear dressed on the field

  5. pantslesspatdye

    The NCAA will be able to get away with keeping this rule intact. Most people do not follow football as passionate fans of the sport (read: blog participants). ESPN brushed over the Drew ejection and didn’t even cover the Wilson penalty – which would have made for good tv and would show a problem with the rule. Basically, they are on board likely for the sake of preventing concussions. I think that general sports fans are not aware that there is a problem.

  6. Here’s the thing about the “slippery slope”. On the surface it makes sense that if you start reviewing one type of flag, you’re on a slippery slope. Except the targeting penalty is very unique. There is no other penalty in the game where the refs are instructed to throw the flag if there is even a chance it was a penalty (“when in doubt”). It has been set up by the NCAA as a completely unique penalty. So I honestly don’t see how overturning the penalty puts us on a slippery slope. They are treating that penalty uniquely already, further unique treatment shouldn’t be an issue.

  7. Gravidy

    The “two penalty solution” is no solution at all. It would be a dishonest attempt to solve the problem. The net effect of that system would be the same in every single case. It would be a sham, and everyone involved would know it. So, yeah, that’s probably what will happen. 😦

  8. Bulldog Joe

    “That’s just the first stage.”

    The SEC office welcomes this and future opportunities to control the outcome of its games.

  9. I may be mistaken, but isn’t it a reviewable play if there are too many men on the field, but a penalty is not called? I feel like that has been reviewed before (via coach’s challenge). You also can review to see if a ball has been tipped, which negates a pass interference penalty that has been called. The penalty yardage isn’t marked off anyway. You can review a player touching an onside kick before it reaches ten yards, which would be illegal touching. So, penalties can be reviewed, and upon review, overturned (or called), but we don’t want to overturn this one… because we said so?

    The slippery slope is the one where the credibility and respectability of the people in charge is rapidly declining.

  10. 69Dawg

    If I was a Ref I would love to do the UGA games. The coach and AD just take it so well. We have been screwed by the SEC REfs so long we don’t even try to get some relief. A normal coach would have called the ejection of his player done in this manner a bullshit call by an incompetent part-time employee who is too damn old to be Refing in the first place. Hell If I made 3 million a year I’d pay a fine just to say it. Way to take up for your players Coach.

    By the way a guy on a call-in show mentioned something I have not paid much attention but it makes sense. He said if the “white hat” Ref makes a call he has never seen it reversed by the replay official. Seems like no one wants to mess with the Boss.

    • Ghost of Dawgs Past

      I watched the aTM-Auburn game and there was “targeting” going on all game and it was never called. It was like UGA-Vandy was in a different conference. No consistency even within the same conference. The game I love is bring destroyed.

    • Bulldog Joe

      Agreed. Our coach prefers to speak in vague politically-corrent circles.

      Contrast this with Missouri. Pinkel was pissed his QB was injured and wasted no words in taking up for him wth the SEC office. We paid the price for it in spades on Saturday.

      • How do you know what Richt does or does not file with the SEC office?

        • Bulldog Joe

          I am confident he does it. I realize there is a $10,000 fine from the SEC office for publicly berating the officiating, but I am not aware it has ever been assessed to a coach.

          Pinkel publicly stated he was disappointed in the plays which led to his QB being injured and he was sending those plays to the SEC office to review. He said little else.

          Saying it in public put pressure on the SEC to do something. The SEC certainly did something on Saturday.

          • Saying it in public put pressure on the SEC to do something.

            If that’s the case, that’s the first time in memory of that happening. Usually the coaches are the last folks the SEC office responds to.

  11. D.N. Nation

    Here, let me write a shorter version of that second article.

    Steve Shaw: “Bullsh*t, bullsh*t, bullsh*t, bullsh*t. OK, is your recorder off? OH MAN WASN’T THAT SWEET WHEN QUENTON DIAL BLASTED MURRAY? BOOYAH!”

  12. Macallanlover

    Part of the problem begins with the use of the term “targeting”, that implies willful intent. like an assassin would have, I think we have all seen a couple of examples of that in our lifetime of watching football, but not many. If you get rid of that poor use of the word and use it only for specific times where a player is defenseless and you lead with the helmet or spear a player on the ground, I don’t think fans would have any objection to that. And it would be grounds for ejection subject to a review by the booth, or from the league office the next week. And we can all get away from the PC disclaimer about concern for player safety because no one has ever opposed that.

    I would have hated for the Drew contact play to have been called Roughing the Passer, but that wouldn’t have been the worse use of that infraction call I have ever seen. To make ti fall under a targeting/head shot penalty was egregious and for it to be upheld is especially troubling because it reflects a booth in fear of reversing the official wearing the white hat. That penalty of yardage didn’t beat UGA, but the loss of Drew that early may have been a major contributor.

    The call against Wilson is the one that definitely cost us the game, even as badly as we did other things. and it is a better example of the abuse of the rule. Everyone is stunned by the stupidity of a rule where the review cannot undo an erroneous call and that one extended a Vandy drive that led to the winning score. Wilson could not have made a better football play yet his actions cost his team the game. It cannot get worse than that. But it comes from the directive to throw the flag and trust the review and that is just a dumb way to handle enforcement of the rules of a game.

    I am disappointed about the way many things went in Nashville Saturday but the conversation for ALL Dawg fans are totally different had we escaped with 7-10 point win had these calls not been horribly missed. And they missed because of the way an NCAA committee wrote/named the rule, and a CYA directive to overcall the penalties without regard for the miscalls.

  13. Bright Idea

    I fear that if they take away the 15 yard penalty on an overturn, the replay official will NEVER overturn anything even if it is clearly a bad call.

  14. wileycopy

    A good assessment of targeting as it stands in the NCAA. Sure I don’t expect Obama to let his kid play football (too much like something a real American would do) but the sport in it’s current incarnation is under attack. Fear of lawyers and liability is going to result in a watered down feminine parody of a formerly great sport. It is understood that there is risk. Cowardice in the face of risk is just that, and expecting risk without consequences (or for someone else to bear the financial brunt of your decisions) is delusional. Maybe this will lead to leagues outside of the NCAA/NFL span of control, this happened in hockey on a pretty successful level. Maybe the XFL could make a come back, and in an ironic twist, simply play with what were the older style NFL rules and uniforms, as the old rules and old style of play are more “extreme” than the current state of play.

    • AthensHomerDawg

      Well call me chicken then. Outside of a heart stent? Few things can make you more apprehensive than the prospect of sitting with your attorneys across the table from other lawyers and their client with intentions of causing you some fiscal discomfort over a contract dispute. I have it on good authority that it is always best to stay away from that scenario.

  15. fatman48

    The SEC Ref’s have been targeting UGA since the LSU game, where A.J. Greene scored and was flagged for “Excessive Celebration” for standing in the end zone, Richt protested the “OFFICATING” to the SEC commish Mike “The Munkin” Sleve, and its been down hill ever since.

  16. AthensHomerDawg

    It is hard to watch a game like Ga/Auburn 2010 and not think that the refs are less than honest about their calls. After saying that I remember that refs are more or less doing this as a hobby in addition to their real jobs and families for about 10 grand a year and travel. Since Brother Nick has taken Alabama semi-pro ( while Georgia chooses to retain its amateur status) why not pay refs like real employees and provide serious classes and training for them?

  17. Go Dawgs!

    Who in the hell are these “purists” that Shaw is talking about? Refereeing enthusiasts? No, it’s the damn officials who don’t want any more of their work to be overturned by replay than it already is. Tough luck, buttercup. Tell ya what, don’t throw a BS flag on targeting from across a damn football field when a man standing on top of the play kept his in his pocket. Maybe then you won’t be in the position of having a guy with a much better view tell you that you suck at your job.

  18. simpl_matter

    How many career boxers don’t sound like they just had major dental surgery? Not many. Guess what? Banging your head repeatedly against solid things is not a smart health choice. Neither is breathing in today’s world. Get the data out there, show the long-term damage it causes, then let people make their own damn choices. Stop screwing up the game.

    Seriously, I was a referee for a dozen or so years (mostly youth & high-school, but a little semi-pro), what I saw on Ramik’s hit would have drawn the scorn from the rest of the officiating crew. You NEVER launch a flag from over 20 yards away, you get reasonably close to the spot of the foul and then drop the flag. That flag took ~2 seconds to come out and came flying in from beyond the camera’s viewing angle. He had to be 30+ yards away. Had to be a linesman or line judge throwing it. He was wayyyy out of position to make that call.

    One of the older officials during my time was fond of saying, “if you don’t know whatcha’ got, you got nothing.” You never threw a flag just because something didn’t look good, you had to be certain of the foul that occurred. Otherwise, you were inserting yourself too much in the game & effecting the outcome.

  19. sniffer

    “A lot of purists have never wanted us to go over that line.”

    Since when do they care what purists think about anything?

  20. DWH

    I never thought I’d say this, but I’m really starting to lose my desire to watch college football anymore

    • I’ve thought for a while that I’ll be shocked if I’m still as emotionally attached to the sport five years from now.

      • Normaltown Mike

        You’ve made several comments about how important college hoops used to be in your life and how marginally interesting it is now. I refused to believe such a thing could happen to CFB, but not anymore.

        When a competitive endeavor is marred by capricious, arbitrary and inconsistent “rules”, the outcome is no longer tied to the actual competition.

        When I watched pro wrestling as a child, I knew it was “fake” but I appreciated the physical feats and the absurd stories.

        I watch football now because of competition. If the rules are going to be enforced in the direction we’re trending, we might as well get Jimmy Cornette and his tennis racket on the sidelines, let the coaches have valets and have players knock out the refs or steal the ball when they look the wrong direction on occasion.

        • Go Dawgs!

          I can’t watch NFL games anymore because of how nit-picky the rules have become with what constitutes a fumble, a reception, football moves, etc. The officials are too involved and the game drags on at a snail’s pace because of how technical it is. It’s starting to happen to college football. It’s too bad. There’s never been anything that excites me the way college football still does. I really hope that they don’t mess it up between the drilling down of these (necessary but deeply flawed) rules changes and this playoff business.

  21. Dog in Fla

    “Our game is absolutely under attack,”

    This news from Gulf Shores, Allahbama, caused concern at the Islamic Society of Mobile and the Islamic Center of Northwest Florida

    • Macallanlover

      Sorry to hear there is an “Islamic Center” anywhere in NW Florida, it is the only part of Florida I spend any time/money in. Having a concentration for a faux religion based on hate is not attractive to Americans. They are a group that needs to targeted. May have to re-route for the winter.

      • Go Dawgs!


        There are Muslims everywhere, Macallan.

      • Dog in Fla

        Mac, ICONWF is laid-back compared to the Islamic Society of Mobile where purists have drawn the line in the sand for slippery slope rezoning purposes. Am sure the ICONWF Iman doesn’t want a targeting penalty and would have no problem with you dropping by for Friday Khutbah whenever you’re in Pensacola enemy territory. Wait, there’s more! Kumbaya after each service


      • D.N. Nation

        Psssst. You do know Musa Smith is, in addition to being a DGD, a Muslim, yes?

        • Macallanlover

          The majority of Muslims are good people but they do not call out/excommunicate the radicals (estimated at 10%)who kill in their name. All religions have extremists, this is the only one which does not separate themselves from the crazies. That is why I do not hesitate to blast them. They are phonies, and a religion of hate.

        • AthensHomerDawg

          Yes he is and he dealt with a lot. http://old.post-gazette.com/sports/other/20020911pagetwomusasmithp3.asp
          Interesting family. They all have a lot to be proud of. ” From the outside looking in, the Smiths are the realization of the American Dream. His sister Kalimah graduated magna cum laude from Temple and is a lawyer. His brother Michael is in the Marine Corps. Another sister, Fermele, attended college on an ROTC scholarship, and his brother Talib played small college football.”

          • Scorpio Jones, III

            Mac, you embarrass yourself…if you must have bigoted views, you really ought to thing about keeping them to yourself.

            “Majority of Muslims are good people”….let me guess, Mac, some of your best friends are Jews, right?

            • Macallanlover

              Quite a leap you made there SJ, you don’t know me at all. I am for from a bigot so keep your PC view away from me asshole. I am far from bigoted, people who do not have the same views as you aren’t necessarily closed minded, they may actually see things you aren’t capable of in your rush to wish away evil. I don’t deny your right to stick your head in the sand in you wish, I have stopped wasting my time on naïve fools. I resent you putting a label on me because of my love of peace and the right to defend my life, my family, my property, and my culture. There are still many of us will fight for that, don’t ever believe the American spirit has died just because of polls and elections. When someone swears to bring down my society, I take that very seriously and will keep my guard up. You can love them all you like, I will consider them an enemy.

              • Since when is failing to criticize fanatics the same thing as swearing to bring down your society?

                • Macallanlover

                  Short version then I am through with this topic on this thread. Approximately 1 billion Muslims, estimated 10%, or 100 million fanatics whose interpretation of the Koran is to bring down those who lead a different lifestyle than they feel is “allowed”. Grab that, 100 million people who wake up every day thinking it their job to implement pain/suffering to the Western way of life, absolutely dedicated to it. Hundreds of examples where deadly force was used against what I will call “innocents”, some spectacularly.

                  By not excommunicating, publicly calling out the fanatics the Muslim leaders have allowed a blurring of the lines, and virtually given endorsement by their lack of actions. If this is a religion of peace, why would they tolerate killing in the name of their god and their holy book? There are extremists among every religious group I have studied throughout history, but this one faith, is the only one that I know who does not take great efforts to say they will be punished by our god for their actions, this is not what our religion stands for or endorses, and they will not be rewarded in the afterlife. Also, they are banned from the places of worship, mosques, and any meeting held that deals with plans for radical/extremist offensive actions will be reported to the authorities.

                  I no longer have strong religious feelings of my own for any particular doctrine, and accept every legitimate faith as having a right to their feelings/beliefs so long as they do not damage/threaten the overall good and safety of our society. To think I am bigoted or specifically against any religion is so far from the truth. When you cross that line of saying you want to exterminate me, my family, my property, and my way of life you cannot expect me to allow you to look at you as just someone who has a different belief because of their “religion”. That is one of the reasons I don’t make a good Christian, I don’t plan on turning the other cheek.

                  • So what you’re saying is “virtually given endorsement” by non-action is the same thing as swearing to bring down your society? Seems like a bit of a stretch there, Mac.

                    • Macallanlover

                      Not to me, but you are welcome to your opinion. In my view it is the Muslim clerics/leaders’ role to clean their own house. If these radical fundamentalists are sincerely just misguided believers of the Koran, who has more influence on changing their behavior or incentive? The lives lost on this inaction is on them. It isn’t my responsibility to determine which is in the 10% and which is in the 90%, they all claim the same belief system and go to the same place of worship. I would damn well want them cut from my congregation and not have them wearing my church colors if I were a parishioner. If they don’t stand against that behavior then exactly what kind of values do they have? Let’s not get into women and children’s rights by portions of that faith. If I as a US Presbyterian, and you as a US Catholic were part of a group that condoned hate, hate crimes, child abuse, and abuse of women, we would be considered Klansmen or some other radical hate group. So why do we open our arms and accept this group willingly into our society and puff our chests out about diversity? Hiding behind the name of religion doesn’t make bad behavior acceptable to me, and it doesn’t matter whether it is a church, temple, or mosque.

                    • Awful lot of evangelicals stay silent after abortion doctors or staffers are harmed or murdered. Do we tar them with the same brush, too?

                    • Macallanlover

                      Yup, I really am against all religious fanatics and feel the only one that does not call out the whackos are the Muslims. Violence in the name of religion is one of the leading causes of non-medical deaths. One of the primary reasons I do not affiliate with any organized religion is I find it silly to think that any have the right to feel “they are the ones with the answers” yet they condemn those who do not believe as they do/say. I appreciate the roles that religion plays in societies and how it provides hope and a framework and structure. Just find it is goes beyond the good it does when it seeks to control its own members and denigrate those who feel differently.

              • Scorpio Jones, III

                “Quite a leap you made there SJ, you don’t know me at all. I am for from a bigot so keep your PC view away from me asshole.”

                I don’t use a PC, Mac, I use a Mac, Mac, and it has spell check….maybe you ought to stick to cheap Scotch, Mac…no I don’t know you, thank God, I already know significantly more about you than I want to.

  22. AusDawg85

    Ahhh, the bye week…Mark Richt has lost control of agent Boom, Mac, Muslims, Top 3 Ranking next season, and the SEC office.