EXCLUSIVELY to Monday's Chalktalk Rogers Redding, the national coordinator of College Football Officiating, provides insights about rules changes and the mindset of college football referees. The CFO is the national professional organization for all football officials who work games at the collegiate level.
In an earlier column we looked at the most important rule change for 2013: automatic ejection if a player commits a so-called “targeting” foul. Targeting is where a player takes aim at a defenseless opponent and attacks him at the head or neck area, or where a player gets a bead on an opponent and attacks with the crown of the helmet. The danger of these plays might apply to either the receiver or the deliverer of the blow. A player who leads with the crown of the helmet to make a block or a tackle puts himself in danger of driving his own head between his shoulders, and can result in serious neck and spinal injury. And attacking at the head or neck area—whether it is with the helmet or not—can lead to concussion and other debilitating injures to the opponent.
Here are some things officials watch for. A player is at great risk of being ejected from the game for these elements:
· Launch—a player leaving his feet to attack an opponent by an upward and forward thrust of the body to make contact in the head or neck area
· A crouch followed by an upward and forward thrust to attack with contact at the head or neck area—even though one or both feet are still on the ground· Leading with helmet, forearm, fist, hand or elbow to attack with contact at the head or neck area
· Lowering the head before attacking by initiating contact with the crown of the helmet
It is important to understand that the foul itself has not changed. These plays have been illegal for a number of years, and officials have gained considerable experience in flagging them. What is new is the punishment—the penalty—as it now means automatic ejection, as well as the 15-yard penalty. When Instant Replay is available the Replay Official has the authority to reverse the ejection if he concludes from the video, without any doubt, that the initial contact was not with the helmet crown or was not directly to the head or neck area. Nothing about the playing action itself has changed: what was illegal last year is still illegal in 2013.
But now the punishment is much stiffer.