NCAA football rules committee recommends targeting appeal

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Players ejected for targeting in the second half of a college football game could be eligible to play the next game after an appeal through the conference office, if a recommendation issued Friday by the NCAA rules committee is approved.

After four days of meetings in Indianapolis, the committee also recommended penalizing all full-field blocks below the waist and creating an investigation process for allegations of a team faking injuries that could lead to conferences penalizing players. schools and coaches.

The recommendations must be approved by the Rules of Play Oversight Committee in April and will come into effect next season.


The committee discussed changing the game clock management to shorten games both in terms of time and number of games, but decided to take no action.

The average FBS game was 3 hours and 28 minutes last season and included around 137 offensive plays.

Cutting time and playing out of college football games has become a topic of discussion recently as conference commissioners consider whether to possibly expand the playoffs, a move that could increase the maximum length of a season to 16 or even 17 games for a few teams.

Attempts to expand the college football playoffs to 12 teams by the 2024 season have failed, and the earliest a new format would be implemented now is 2026.

National officials coordinator Steve Shaw said the number of players per game has plateaued for the past six seasons after a slight decline.

“But we talked at one point about needing to sort that out if the season gets longer because it’s a longer playoff,” said Stanford coach David Shaw, chairman of the rules committee.

The rules committee has been looking for several years for ways to discourage injury simulations, primarily by defensive players to slow accelerated offenses.

Steve Shaw said the committee was still concerned about implementing changes to the game. The problem is that a rule requiring players who are dealt on the field to miss the remainder of an offensive possession would incentivize players who are actually injured to play due to injury.

“So now, for questionable game action, the institution or conference may consult with the National Officials Coordinator to facilitate a video review. And if there are any findings that will now come back to the conference office, and the conference office will deal with the institution, the coach, to have it corrected,” Steve Shaw said.

The suggested penalties were not recommended, but David Shaw said he would prefer coaches to face “severe penalties” for coaching players to fake injuries.

“It’s one of those things that is taught that is unethical,” David Shaw said. “So as best we can to eliminate that, hopefully we’ll get a partnership with the conference officials, the conference commissioners, leaning on some of these coaches who are teaching unethical things. .”

The targeting foul has been a constant point of contention among coaches, players and fans, but there has been no serious movement to change it. Targeting, implemented in its current form in 2008, results in a penalty of 15 yards, plus the ejection of the flagged player.

Players sent off in the first half of a game must not miss the next game. Players expelled at any time during the second half must sit out the first half of the following game.

Per the committee’s proposal, the conference office may submit a request to the national officiating coordinator to review a second-half targeting foul.

The committee recommended that if it is “clearly, evident” that the targeting call was incorrect, it would be reversed retroactively and the player would be cleared to play in the first half of the following game.

“The committee strongly supports the targeting rule and believes it continues to directly support player health, safety and technique,” ​​David Shaw said.

Adjustments have been made in recent years to the way targeting is reviewed by in-game video officials, which has resulted in more fouls being canceled on the pitch.

Some coaches have claimed a two-tier targeting foul, with only the most egregious firing an ejection.

Policy makers have been reluctant to make the sanction less punitive, saying it has helped change players’ behavior and reduce the number of dangerous shots – although it has been difficult to quantify these observations.

A study of data from Pac-12 games from 2016-19 recently published in the Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine, showed that the risk of concussion on a targeted game was 37 times higher than on all other games.

The number of targeting fouls per game hasn’t fluctuated much in recent seasons. According to NCAA data, it was 0.20 per game in 2021, or about one every five games. That was down from 0.27 per game in 2020, but up slightly from 2019 (0.19).

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