Throughout the summer college football fans were reminded time and time again about the new targeting rule in effect for this season.
But it never really resonates until it happens to your team. Oklahoma fans got a taste of it last week during a 51-20 victory against Tulsa.
Late in the first quarter OU safety Gabe Lynn was called for targeting, leading with the crown of his helmet, resulting in a personal foul penalty and an automatic ejection from the game.
Replay clearly showed Lynn didn’t lead with his head but with his shoulder. Two days later, OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops was not in a good mood.
“That’s just ridiculous,” Stoops said. “These kids work too hard and they play too hard. It is hard for me to believe that somebody is out to hurt somebody. To really endanger somebody – that would be disturbing to me.
“Saturday was a bang-bang play, and he needed to hit the guy where he did to get the ball out. He made a great play.”
After the review, Lynn was able to stay in the game, but the penalty still stands. In this case it turned a third down into a first-and-goal for Tulsa.
If it happens in the first half, the player will miss the rest of the game. But if it happens in the second half, he’ll miss the rest of that game and the first half of the next one. No doubt it’s a stiff penalty.
And some would say a justifiable penalty. But when it’s overturned by replay, why does the penalty still stand? And how hard does that make things going forward? Stoops didn’t mince his words.
“I'm just disappointed that it's exactly what we teach them to do. That's the only way he can get the ball. He did exactly what we teach them. So they're telling me I'm teaching my guys wrong. That's disappointing to me. That's not what rules intend to do. If they're going to wave it off, just wave it off. If he didn't launch, he didn't go high, there shouldn't be a penalty. You can't penalize somebody for hitting some guy's shoulder or his arm to knock a ball loose. That's not a penalty. If they're going to wave it off, to me, they should wave the whole (penalty) off. There's such an overreaction.
“I looked to see if he left his feet. He didn't leave his feet. He didn't hit him in the head. Every element that they told us would be called, he didn't do any of them. So now it becomes a judgment call. To me if they're going to review it, why don't they just review it and see if he did make contact high or launched. Those are all the elements they're looking for. It's just disappointing they can't take that element back. It's kind of foolish to me.
“It cost us a touchdown. He overreacted. He thought (Lynn) grazed his head. But when you look at it you can see they hit shoulder to shoulder. That's what I was upset over. That's what we teach. That's the only way we can do it. So now what do you do? You don't do anything? We're literally stopping before we can hit anybody now. That's what it's gotten to.
"They've got to lower their targets. That's why going after a quarterback, ultimately we're going to have to go take their knees out. And you can do it in college. That's what they're telling us. You've got to literally go for their knees. Because if your body hits their face mask when you try to knock a ball down or go high… It's going to cause more problems in the lower extremity. I don't know what the answer is to that.
“The kid makes a great play and he gets no credit. He gets yelled at for a 15-yard penalty that gives them a touchdown. What's fair in that?”