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NCAA rule: ejection for targeting head of defenseless player (1 Viewer)

GregR

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http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2013/07/13/ncaa-may-take-harder-line-than-nfl-on-hits-to-the-head/

NCAA may take harder line than NFL on hits to the head
Posted by Michael David Smith on July 13, 2013, 4:10 PM EDT

In recent years, the NFL has been, depending on your perspective, either at the forefront of protecting players from head injuries, or at the forefront of softening the physical nature of the game of football. But this season, college football may go further than the NFL ever has when it comes to taking hits to the head out of the game.

The NCAA has already approved a new rule for 2013 that mandates an ejection for any player who targets a defenseless opponent with a hit above the shoulders, but until the college football season starts, it’s tough to say just how strictly college football officials will enforce that rule. Tom Dienhart of Big Ten Network, however, is at a gathering of college football officials today, and he reports that they’re being instructed to take the new rule very, very seriously.

In fact, Dienhart’s takeaway from everything he heard about the new rule is, “get ready for ejections.”

The Big Ten’s marching orders for its officials on players who hit defenseless opponents in the head is, “When in doubt, throw him out.” The Big Ten (like the NFL) reviews questionable hits on the Monday after games and can suspend players, but the conference doesn’t want to deal with it on Mondays. The conference wants officials to deal with it on Saturdays, by ejecting players from games.

NFL officials also have the authority to eject players for hits to the helmet of defenseless opponents, but most of the time it’s just a 15-yard penalty and a fine from the league office after the fact. But if the new college rule leads to a perception that the NCAA is taking hits to the head more seriously than the NFL is, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the NFL respond by matching the NCAA’s approach. It’s only a college rule for now, but NFL fans may need to get ready for ejections, too.
 
Given all the strong feelings about the NFL's rules on this, surprised the much harsher college rule hasn't drawn any comment.

As far as impact on the NFL, I can see it going two ways. One is short term, if the NCAA rule doesn't result in a scathing backlash from college fans, then the NFL will be under some perceived pressure to do the same. I'm sure if they don't, the lawyers of those suing the NFL over CTE will try to use it against the NFL that they weren't willing to go as far to protect players as the NCAA was.

Should the NFL hold out against that though, then with the tougher college rules perhaps college play will head back more towards an emphasis on tackling rather than on big hit head hunting, as an ejection is I think a bigger penalty than most will want to deal with. That could eventually trickle down to the NFL.

I imagine the NFL will probably end up following suit before that happens though.

 
I wouldnt want any part of some knee-jerk reaction getting a player tossed from the game. If it's reviewed and determined that the player was intentionally going after the head then you could suspend him but the game is moving too fast for an offiicial to make such a ground breaking call IMO

 
I'd be more comfortable with this rule if the official making the call to eject the player was the equivalent of the replay official. The guys on the field have a hard enough job already, and having them make these calls on hits to the helmet is extremely difficult. Did the helmet hit first or did it glance the shoulder? Did the player duck down which caused the helmet to become the point of contact, when the shoulder was originally targeted? There are plenty of questions like this, and we've seen mistakes made plenty of times. It's bad enough when it results in an incorrect 15 yards and a 1st...or when the call is missed but should have taken place. You potentially exacerbate it greatly if you're kicking a player out of the game.

Have an upstairs official, or better yet, a centralized official at NCAA HQ, who has access to replays and can make the best decision, buzz down to the referee indicating that a player should be ejected.

 
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The key phrase I take away from this article is "any player who targets a defenseless opponent with a hit above the shoulders", and the key word in that phrase is "targets". I have my doubts whether this NCAA rule is enforceable with any kind of consistency. We are going to see ejections that shouldn't be called for as well as ones that should.

Is the supposed infraction automatically reviewable prior to player ejection? Example: DL on a clear path and gearing up to hit the QB midsection as he gets closer, QB trips and DL squarely hits QB's helmet instead. Should the DL be ejected? Will the play be reviewed? The Big Ten is taking a "when in doubt, kick him out" mentality according to the article. How many times will ejections be unwarranted?

An immediate ejection from a NFL game is basically an appeal-less 1-game suspension. While the NFL already has specific rules in place to allow referees to make ejection calls, these are for "flagrant foul" infractions in most instances, if I'm not mistaken. I'm not sure how the NFL would define "targeting a defenseless players helmet", nor how they would enforce it because it's basically the referee claiming he, or another member of his crew, knew the intent of the player being ejected. What about plays where there is no contact with the "defenseless players helmet", yet an official strongly believes there was "intent to target"? Would the official be able to eject the player? It just seems that there is too much variation in how the rule could be interpreted as stated in the article. That may be fine for the NCAA, but I don't think so for the NFL.

I would think the NFLPA would have something to say about these possible ejections also. Would ejection mean loss of a game check? Right now, the NFL already hands down fines like there's no tomorrow regarding hits to the head.

I'm a little leery of this rule and how it could be applied by NFL officials during games. Am I off base here?

 
I dug this up from an ESPN article on it:

A college football player who delivers a hit to the head of a defenseless opponent could be kicked out of the game next season under an NCAA proposal that took a step forward Wednesday.

The NCAA Football Rules Committee said it had unanimously approved strengthening of the penalty for intentional above-the-shoulder hits. The 15-yard penalty will now have an ejection tacked on, assuming the Playing Rules Oversight Panel approves the plan next month.

Player safety was the theme of the committee's three-day meeting in Indianapolis, with the ejection for targeting the most noticeable change fans will notice in 2013 across all NCAA divisions. The committee also tweaked the rule on below-the-waist blocks.

If the penalty occurs in the first half, the player would be ejected for the remainder of the game. If the penalty occurs in the second half or overtime, the player is ejected for the remainder of the game and the first half of the next game.

Perhaps one of the stranger rule changes, and one Boise State fans surely will notice, would require teams to have either their jerseys or pants contrast in color to the playing field. The Mountain West had barred the Broncos from wearing all-blue uniforms on their blue turf during conference games last season.

As for the high hits, chairman and Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said the committee wanted to address clear instances where a defender is leading with the crown of his head to hit a defenseless player above the shoulders.

"It's a real problem in the sport," he said, "and we need to eliminate it."

Last season, Calhoun said, there were 99 targeting penalties called in the Football Bowl Subdivision that, under the proposed rule, would have called for an ejection. He said the player on the receiving end of the hit in many cases sustained a concussion or other type of injury that caused him to miss significant playing time.

"It's not a gigantic number," Calhoun said of the 99. "Ultimately, our goal is zero. Is that realistic? I don't know if zero is. But I know any time you involve an ejection, we're going to see that number go down drastically immediately."

If the penalty occurs in the first half, the player would be ejected for the remainder of the game. If the penalty occurs in the second half or overtime, the player is ejected for the remainder of the game and the first half of the next game.

The rule would allow for the ejection portion of the penalty to be reviewed through video replay. The replay official must have conclusive evidence that the penalized player didn't intentionally target a defenseless player in order to overturn the call on the field. Calhoun said the 15-yard portion of the penalty would not be reviewable.
 
It would seem logical if you outlaw it in the NCAA that most would not do it when they hit the NFL, just keep going all the way down to HS and Pop Warner so players never learn to hit the head or lead with the head. I like this rule for college football.

 
Greg Russell said:
I'm sure if they don't, the lawyers of those suing the NFL over CTE will try to use it against the NFL that they weren't willing to go as far to protect players as the NCAA was.

I imagine the NFL will probably end up following suit before that happens though.
I would agree with that last statement. I think it will actually have an escalating penalty, like PEDs. Ejection... Ejection, Suspension... etc.

 

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