Buckle up for a potentially bumpy ride through the 2013 season across the college football landscape. That's because of a new directive based on the rule change that occurred just about a month ago, one that says "targeting a defenseless player" with a blow above the shoulders will carry an automatic ejection and not just the 15 yard penalty it used to.
Earlier today a few members of the media were in attendance at the Big Ten, MAC, and Missouri Valley officials meeting where they got his clarification on how the new rule will work:
"When in doubt, throw him out." Those are the marching orders of #B1G officials this fall when it comes to targeting defenseless players.— Tom Dienhart (@BTNTomDienhart) July 13, 2013
So, um, ya.... refs will now be charged with deciding intent to "target" and will be instructed to throw players out if they think there was a blow to the head. Don't worry though, once the flag has been thrown a replay official has the ability to overturn the ejection!! Ahh, but only if there is conclusive evidence showing no "targeting" occurred.
Nothing could possibly go wrong here, right? After all, we're talking about Big Ten officials and we all know how amazingly awesome these guys are regardless of football or basketball.
The other part of this rule chance is yet more proof that I would want nothing to do with being an official today. All that is in their hands is the power to affect the outcome of the game with one ejection of a player. Not a fun task, but luckily they will be getting support from the conference and the rest of the officials.
#B1G Officials have been told if they don't adjudicate targeting hits/suspensions on Saturdays, they aren't doing their job.— Tom Dienhart (@BTNTomDienhart) July 13, 2013
Let's just see how this works, but something tells this writer this rule change and it's on the field applicatioin is going to make this horrible call even worse in 2013:
Don't look for that call to change either.....
Officials are being shown a series of hard hits and asked to vote if hit is foul and targeting. I'll just say this: get ready for ejections.— Tom Dienhart (@BTNTomDienhart) July 13, 2013
According to some quick thinking and research only 99 players last season were flagged for this exact penalty, or about 1% of all players, but it remains to be seen how a 15 yard penalty turned into an ejection of said players changes the course of a game.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to protect against injury or potential for injuries, but the moment you make a player think twice on the field is the moment even worse things can happen. Could the law of unintended consequences rear its ugly head once again? Only time will tell, but a healthy does of skepticism is well within reason here, after all it is the NCAA and it's rule book we are talking about.