NEW YORK (AP) — The new penalties for targeting in college football resulted in 10 ejections in 75 FBS games during the first weekend of the season, though three of the ejections were overturned by instant replay.
National Coordinator of Officials Rogers Redding said Thursday that the rate of targeting penalties was similar to last season, when there was one called for every eight games.
“Officials have handled it well and the players have begun to get the message,” he said.
He said It’s too soon to know if the ejection that goes along with the 15-yard penalty will affect how frequently the penalty is called.
“I think I would have been pleased and surprised if we only had three or four and I would have been disappointed if we had 20,” he said.
The NCAA changed the penalty for targeting a defenseless player with a hit to the head to add an ejection this season. Targeting has been a penalty for five seasons.
Redding said he is encouraged by signs that players are changing their targets when they hit.
“From what I watched, several times player looked like they began to change their behavior,” he said.
He said he spotted examples of receivers going over the middle, vulnerable to a big hit, and defensive backs not dealing out the most punishing blows.
“Last year, he might have lit (the receiver) up. You could see a little breakdown, lowering the target,” Redding said.
Ejections were overturned against players for California, Colorado State and Southern University, which played Houston.
“What the replay official is looking at is not the action of the player, they’re not second guessing the targeting action,” Redding said. “What they are looking at is was the contact with the crown of the helmet and was the contact to the head and neck area.”
In the case of the penalty against California defensive lineman Chris McCain, he was ejected in the second half of the Bears’ game against Northwestern. By rule, that meant he would also miss the first half of Cal’s next game. However, that was overturned on Monday by the Pac-12, which consulted with Redding.
A communication problem between the replay booth and the field prevented the play from being properly reviewed, Redding said.