Player safety and specifically helmet-to-helmet hits have been major points of emphasis for college football officials and coaches in recent years, especially as we learn more about the effects of concussions. The NCAA Football Rules Committee underscored this in its latest list of proposals.
The committee unanimously voted to increase penalties for targeting a defenseless player above the shoulders. Not only would a team be assessed a 15-yard penalty, but the guilty player would be ejected from the game. How many times has your team's star defender been flagged for targeting? If the proposal is approved by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel at its March 6 meeting, those players would be watching the rest of the game from the locker room.
So this is a big deal.
"Student-athlete safety will always be one of our primary concerns," Air Force coach and rules committee chair Troy Calhoun said. "We all have a role to embrace when making a positive impact on our game. Taking measures to remove targeting, or above the shoulder hits on defenseless players, will improve our great sport."
The proposal essentially likens targeting to fighting, which merits an automatic ejection for a full game. If the targeting foul occurs in the second half, the guilty player would miss the remainder of the game and the first half of the following game. The Big Ten in the past has tacked on additional penalties for fighting or for high hits.
The committee also proposed that the ejection portion of a penalty is subject to replay review.
From the NCAA release:
The replay official must have conclusive evidence that a player should not be ejected to overturn the call on the field. Additionally, a postgame conference review remains part of the rule and conferences always have the ability to add to a sanction.
Other proposals -- the full list is at the bottom of the NCAA release -- address blocking below the waist, spiking the ball to stop the clock, changing jersey numbers during games and clock issues. One proposal already bumming out Boise State fans would require teams to wear jerseys or pants that had different colors to the field. The only Big Ten team this could affect is Michigan State because all Big Ten fields are, well, green.