The ambiguity surrounding football’s targeting rule since its implementation in 2013 has been one of the more frustrating aspects of the sport. After six years of the rule, coaches are petitioning for a change.
According to ESPN, FBS coaches “unanimously supported” a two-tiered targeting system, similar to the flagrant foul rules in basketball. In this model, there would be a Targeting 1 and Targeting 2 penalty to differentiate between incidental and malicious intent. The news came out at the American Football Coaches Association’s annual convention.
In this system, a Targeting 1 infraction would result in a 15-yard penalty without an ejection or suspension. A Targeting 2 ruling would result in an automatic ejection from the game and potential suspension.
“Targeting 1 would carry a 15-yard penalty, meaning that there was no malicious intent here,” [AFCA executive director Todd] Berry said. “We recognize this was not something where they’re trying to hurt or maim someone else. Targeting 2 would be that of malicious intent, the one we’re all trying to get rid of. And, to further that, our coaches have suggested if you have multiple Targeting 2 penalties over the course of the year, we would like to see that individual be even more severely punished than a one-game suspension. We need to eliminate those people from the game if we can’t eliminate the act.”
This type of system would certainly allow a little more flexibility and permit officials to differentiate between malicious intent and incidental contact. Though it might be difficult to judge, it seems to be a better system than what is currently in place.
The potential change to the targeting rule, and how it’s officiated, wouldn’t come until at least 2020, meaning the current system will be in place for the 2019 season, barring any minor adjustments.