Monday, 22nd April 2024

10/21/2013: State of the Big Ten, Volume 103 (premium)

Posted on 21. Oct, 2013 by in Iowa Basketball, Iowa Football


Every Monday, we will be running a weekly series titled “State of the Big Ten,” which will be made available to all members of This series of columns will focus on one major headline regarding the conference and go in-depth on the subject at hand.

By Brendan Stiles

Before the 2013 college football season began, there was plenty of discussion taking place about “targeting” being enforced more frequently. This was done primarily as a way to promote player safety and limit the number of head injuries.

Players who get called for “targeting” are also subject to ejection pending review. After six weeks without a single player ejection taking place, the Big Ten has now seen players in consecutive weeks get tossed from games as a result of the rule. On Oct. 12, it was Nebraska cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste getting ejected from the Cornhuskers’ game against Purdue.

Last weekend, it was Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby leaving the Buckeyes’ game against Iowa after he was called for targeting and his ejection drew the ire of Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer during his weekly press conference on Monday in Columbus.

By the pure definition of the rule, both players were guilty of targeting and one could argue the ejections in both cases were warranted. But maybe the rule is a bit harsher than it needs to be.

This isn’t to say there shouldn’t be personal foul penalties called for hits like the two mentioned. But should those hits warrant ejections the first go-around, especially when the player “targeted” doesn’t leave the game for good because of said hit? It’s debatable and that’s why there’s such heavy discussion re-surfacing.

In the case of Roby’s hit, Iowa tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz — who was on the receiving end of it — was looked at on the field by trainers and eventually came back in from the sideline at the end of that Iowa possession. Roby definitely deserved a 15-yard personal foul penalty for the hit because there was helmet-to-helmet contact that took place. But it’s hard to sit there and say, “Yes, Roby had intent of aiming at Fiedorowicz’s head on that particular hit.” It wasn’t as though Roby morphed into Brandon Meriweather on the field.

The issue’s not going away, either. There are still seven weeks left in the college football season before bowl games are played in late December and early January. That means there are seven more weeks worth of games (among those Big Ten games) where this issue can and probably will come up again before season’s end.

Because of the impact this rule has had across the entire college football landscape this autumn, it’s going to get reviewed again this offseason. The intent has never been questioned by those involved with the game in any sort of capacity. It’s the whole judgment of whether a player should be ejected, which gets reviewed by the booth every time an official calls targeting on the field.

The amount of gray area with this rule is what makes it controversial. When it comes to player ejections, there can’t be gray area. They need to be black and white and if there’s doubt on whether a player should be ejected (especially on the first such offense), the player probably shouldn’t be ejected.

Hopefully, there aren’t any severe season-ending head injuries that occur between now and season’s end because of hits that fall under the definition of “targeting.” But the targeting topic will remain relevant as long as college football stands pat on how it’s currently constructed.

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