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SEC to apply further pressure to change targeting penalty
The targeting penalty has been a catastrophe waiting to happen since the new ruling was announced this spring. However, cover college football long enough and you'll realize sometimes an issue doesn't exist inside the SEC until it affects the SEC.
That happened on Saturday, when Georgia defender Ramik Wilson was hit with a targeting penalty, which was later overturned by video review, but the 15-yard penalty tacked on in conjunction with the targeting flag remained. The flag cost the Bulldogs a fourth-down stop, and Vanderbilt converted its extended drive into a key touchdown in what turned out to be a 31-27 comeback victory.
On Wednesday, the SEC held a media teleconference with the league's coordinator of officials, Steve Shaw.
"Even our commissioner has serious reservations about the penalty philosophy around targeting fouls when they're overturned," Shaw said. "He and I have talked, he's challenged me, and together we're going to work with the rules committee to revisit the penalty if a disqualification is overturned for targeting."
Shaw said that of the four targeting flags thrown in SEC games on Saturday, two were correct, one was in the gray area (widely speculated to be Georgia defensive lineman Ray Drew shoving the face of Vanderbilt quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels) and one incorrect call which was rightly overturned.
"Whether I like it or not the rulebook says when in question it's a foul," Shaw said. "I heard the term err on the side of safety. I don't want us to err. I want to make sure we're clear on this call. We can't guess. We can't think it might have been. We've gotta see it and know that it's a foul before we put the marker on the ground.
"But like I said these things happen in a split second. And so when in question the book says put the marker on the ground."
The SEC alone can not overturn the rule, it's an NCAA issue. But the league can provide a recommendation to the rules committee.
I strongly suspect next season we'll see a revised rule where a correct targeting penalty still triggers an automatic ejection along with a 15-yard penalty, but an overturned ejection will also erase the yardage mark off.