If you watched the Alabama/Texas A&M game, then you were most likely on your feet screaming obscenities at the refs when they called a targeting penalty against Alabama’s starting safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (which then you were probably on the floor laughing about HaHa’s name!).
Here’s what happened: In the second quarter, A&M had the ball. Clinton-Dix was running down field to make an impressive defensive play against the pass. His hands were in the air attempting to intercept the ball when he collided with the intended receiver. The refs on the field called a “targeting” penalty which results in a 15 yard penalty AND immediate ejection from the game.
The targeting rule is as follows:
“No player shall target and initiate contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent.”
The 15 yard penalty is one thing. The ejection penalty, which is new this year, is another. It has a huge impact on the game, especially if it happens in the second half because it carries over to the first half of the next game. The point of the more aggressive penalty for the foul is to strongly discourage head to head contact to help reduce the large number of head injuries each year. That part, I completely agree with. I don’t ever want to see another player, another son, another young man with his entire future ahead of him, carried out on a stretcher never to be able to walk again.
Fortunately, the refs upstairs in the booth at the Alabama/A&M game reviewed the play and said that there wasn’t a targeting penalty after all. They were allowed to reverse the ejection, keeping Clinton-Dix in the game, but not the 15 yard penalty and automatic first down. Are you freaking kidding me??? They can’t reverse the 15 yard penalty even though he was not found to be targeting? How fair is that? (At this point, I was unable to speak in full sentences due to the fact that I did not want my children to hear four letter words come out of my mouth). If he had actually committed the illegal hit, the penalty would have been understandable, but he didn’t. He simply made an incredible defensive play. Since he was focused on the ball, he collided with the intended receiver and they both went down. It’s idiotic rules like this that make my blood pressure soar during the college football season …and almost wish I was shopping at Target instead.
For more on the rule changes this year, check out this post.