Targeting is a big deal in college football, as it should be. With that said, as with any rule in sports, the spirit of the rule can be lost within the red tape — especially when referees and their opinions are involved.
That's the point Ohio State head coach Ryan Day made recently while talking to Fox Sports' Joel Klatt. The targeting call started with great intentions, but even the best of intentions can become skewed.
“The first thing is it has to be common sense. I think that’s your point. We’re getting so much into the weeds on this that we’ve lost where we started on it," Day told Klatt (h/t On3). "And what was the reason why we did this? To protect young men."
There's a reason targeting has been called more than ever. Player safety is vitally important and when a defender launches into the head of a ball carrier, for example, the chances of concussion or an even more serious head injury skyrocket.
“If someone’s launching into somebody’s head, and they’re unconscious on the ground, that’s not what we want here,” Day explained.
With that said, and especially because of slow motion, some hits that should be deemed as "clean" end up looking worse when slowed down and played over and over again on replay.
“We get into these slow motion things, and we start to get so caught up in the little details and everything, and it’s not realistic, sometimes watching it in slow motion,” Day said. “There has to be some sort of a common sense. I think we have to still trust the referees on the field and what they see. They’re there for a reason.”
Player safety will always be integral but it's worth noting that when a defender is wrongly charged for targeting, it can really impact both the player and the team. Offensive players can be charged for targeting as well, but it does predominantly impact the defense.
The foul comes with a 15-yard penalty and an automatic first down for the offense. If if the penalty happens in the first half, the player is disqualified for the rest of the game. If happens in the second half, the player is disqualified for the rest of the game a swell as the first half of the next game.
“We have to go back to the common sense of why the rules are even put into place," Day said.