What is targeting?

If I was in a position to influence those who are in charge of college football rules, I might show these two plays in response to targeting. Both are plays involving Arkansas. One is clearly targeting in my mind. One is an excessive application of the rule.

In the Wade video, he launches, hits a defenseless player and makes forcible contact to the head. This is a hit that can be avoided. It is the type of dirty hit that triggered the creation of the targeting penalty.

In the McAdoo video, he is trying to bring down a runner with a hard hit at the goal line on the biggest play of the game. We can vary in opinion whether it is targeting as the rule reads, but my point is that it is not the kind of play that brought targeting into existence in the first place.

Targeting reminds me of instant replay. Both have expanded to a point of microanalysis, not in the spirit of why the rule was created.

I don’t think targeting is going away, so the college football leadership has to figure out a way to modify the interpretation of the rules. Hunter Yurachek and Sam Pittman are part of that leadership, by the way, through their roles on the NCAA Football Oversight Committee and American Football Coaches Association Board of Governors, respectively.


One significant part of the McAdoo play is that the runner was NOT defenseless.


I attended the Vandy game where Wade made that awful hit. Then he celebrated the ugly hit. Thankfully Wade was kicked out of the game and was pushing and yelling the staff guy taking him to the locker room. It was plain dirty. What an embarrassment to our State. We ended up winning that game because the Vandy kicker missed a chip shot. Vandy led quite a bit of the game and my best friend told me not to worry that Vandy would find a way to lose. He was right.

Making and upholding a game changing questionable call like the one on McAdoo is absolutely preposterous.

Will MdAdoo be forced to sit the first half of the first game? Unbelievable

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I agree with you, Matt. The line between a great defensive play and a targeting penalty is difficult to understand.

I also think a fumble call has become problematic. I feel like the referees on the field have been instructed to let a questionable fumble play out, knowing that it will be reviewed. Then when it is reviewed, it can’t be overturned without clear evidence. It seems like the officials in the booth prefer not to overturn a call. I don’t know why they couldn’t see Landers’ arm hit the ground with the ball secure in his hand, but evidently it wasn’t clear enough to overturn. If the ruling on the field had been, no fumble, they wouldn’t have overturned that either. Maybe I’m wrong here, but it sure seems like that’s what happened.

What is a tackler supposed to do when the runner puts his head down just as you are trying to hit him? McAdoo did not hit him with the crown of his helmet. It was the side of his helmet hitting the side of the runners helmet. Targeting is supposed to stop helmet to helmet only hits, not punish a tackler when the runner’s helmet drops in the way when both are driving forward low and hard trying to stop or go at the goal line.


nothing will help the call, application or fan observation. Rule is designed to be controversial and is at all levels.

College football targeting, explained: How controversial rule works, from penalty yardage to ejections | Sporting News.

I assume McAdoo has to sit out the first half of next game even in next year??

I believe that is correct.

Who could make a decision to overturn that penalty? NCAA (spit) or the SEC (double spit)… :wink:

As of now, McAdoo will have to sit out the first half of the Western Carolina game next year. Hayden Henry had to do that in the 2021 season opener vs. Rice because of his ejection in the 2020 finale vs. Alabama.

What is different now is that there is an appeals process. The SEC office can review the penalty and potentially overturn the suspension for the first half of the next game.

Aloha Matt,
Thank-you for the time, effort and execution on your part to so well display the intent and abuse of the targeting call. Also glad to know of the SEC appeal process. Hopefully McAdoo will win.
UA…Campus of Champions

The only way to get targeting right is to have the same person review every one and make the call. Multiple officials even at HQ will have differing opinions. Need one guy that makes all the calls. If that’s not realistic than neither is being fair.

Actually, McAdoo’s helmet hit the ball, not the runner’s helmet.

The targeting call and the fumble call were both reviewed and neither review resulted in overturning the call on the field.
Here’s an idea, in the future when these plays occur the officials on the field should just call time out without weighing in with an on field ruling and immediately send these types of play to review.
It seems that some reviewers are hesitant to reverse a decision already called on the field even when there is obvious replay evidence such as was the case with the wrongly called fumble on Landers last night.
Without having folks with integrity and zero bias working in the review department during these games then the system is completely useless.

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Both the called fumble & the targeting call were both 100% game changing calls. Now there were other obvious no calls by both teams. An obvious false start, tripping, some others, but I seen a lot of holding going on, especially by 1 one of the teams.

As pitiful as the fumble call was, I thought the targeting call was worse. It was just a routine short yardage tackle. The idea McAdoo could target the runner in that situation is simply ridiculous. I’ve never seen a targeting call on a goal line running play-ever.

Now if you want to talk about a goal line penalty they missed, go back and look at Dubinion’s touchdown run in the third quarter, where the tackler face masked him just before he crossed the goal line, with a clear view for the side judge and probably at least one other official.

Why call that? We scored anyway. So we can kick off from the 50? Unless he just yanks Dub’s head back in such a way as to threaten his safety, don’t call it, because we’re not going to benefit from the call.

Now if the rules were written so that Kansas would have automatically taken over at the 12.5 without a kickoff, then yeah, call it. That would actually punish them.


So a personal foul should not be called if the penalty won’t benefit the offended team much unless the player could have been injured? Feel the same way about dead ball fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties by the defense after a touchdown?

It’s not a question of benefit to the offended team, it’s a matter of absolutely not wanting defenders grabbing face masks at any time.

The Rules Committee with all those coaches on it, and the member schools could have left the old yanking the face mask penalty personal foul in place when they got rid of the five yard incidental face mask (officials often had a hard time telling the two apart)… Instead, they made any face mask a personal foul, which give you an excellent idea why the foul should be called every time its seen. It’s not just easier to officiate, it emphasizes player safety by essentially making it an automatic personal foul regardless of injury potential for a given foul or player intent.


AR would have had the choice to potentially move closer for the extra point which could mean a more likely 2 pt try, or perhaps move the kickoff to the 50 which would mean a more certain TB, or perhaps a more likely onside kick, or a pooch kickoff trying to tackle the returner inside the 25. Lots of reasons why that call could help. Perhaps none of them would be used, but the opportunity would be there.

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“Why call that?”
It’s an infraction of the rules! If an official sees an infraction, he should call it without trying to analyze the impact of the call on each team. By your logic, if KJ is targeted while throwing a TD, the officials should not call it because we scored anyway.

OK, I’ll accept that. If it’s worth 15 at midfield, it’s worth 15 on the goal line. Even if we scored.