By Rogers Redding, the national coordinator of College Football Officiating, who 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.

The biggest and most controversial rule change coming into the 2013 season was the automatic disqualification of a player who committed any targeting foul.

The two fouls – targeting a defenseless opponent at the head or neck area and targeting with the crown of the helmet – have been in place for five years. But the rules committee’s decision to stiffen the penalty by ejecting the player from the game took this action to the next level of importance.

For first-half fouls the disqualification is for the rest of the game; a player who commits a targeting foul in the second half must also sit out the first half of his team’s next game. Instant Replay offers the possibility of overturning the disqualification and allowing the player back into the game.

The rules committee added the ejection to the usual 15-yard penalty as a way of focusing attention on the need for players to change their approach to breaking up a pass, making a tackle or blocking an opponent from his blind side. In simple terms, we must get this action out of our game. Targeting has never been a frequent foul; for FBS games in 2012 there was only one in about eight games.  But the possibility of severe injury to the players means that we must focus to eliminate it entirely.

The results from 2013 deliver one strong message: the rule works. The number of targeting fouls in FBS games in which the ejection was allowed to stand works out to be about one in 14 games – a great improvement over one in eight games in 2012. Another measure of this success comes from the 35 bowl games, which only saw two targeting fouls.

But beyond the numbers, the ultimate goal is for players to change how they behave in situations where targeting is likely. Perhaps the greatest success was in the way players began to use better and safer techniques in tackling and breaking up passes. As the year wore on it was very obvious that players were changing their approach – using a lower “strike zone,” approaching at the midsection rather than high, getting the head off to the side, tackling without a launch and so on.  Coaches deserve a tremendous amount of credit for teaching their players to tackle without targeting.

The ultimate goal is perfection, getting this play out of our game completely. That may not be possible, but the results after one year are very encouraging.