Nick Bolton was ejected in one of the most questionable calls of the college football season so far.

Bolton, a linebacker for Missouri, delivered a hit that appeared fair and clearly was not targeting. And yet, he was ejected from the game, the latest sign of college football’s inability to define targeting or rationalize certain calls.

From the SEC website:

“Targeting” means that a player takes aim at an opponent for purposes of attacking with forcible contact that goes beyond making a legal tackle or a legal block or playing the ball.

With 1:35 left in the second quarter, Arkansas wide receiver John David White leapt to catch a pass, coming down with the ball. As White came down, Bolton hit him with his right shoulder, any contact with his helmet minimal if at all.

Bolton had one foot on the ground and was turning to go up field when contact was made. It could well have been a turnover and not targeting.

The hit doesn’t seem to meet the requirements of targeting, even as White was jarred and dropped the ball. It was a hard hit, but not dirty and certainly not targeting.

More from the SEC on what constitutes targeting:

  • Launch-a player leaving his feet to attack an opponent by an upward and forward thrust of the body to make forcible contact in the head or neck area

  • A crouch followed by an upward and forward thrust to attack with forcible contact at the head or neck area, even though one or both feet are still on the ground

  • Leading with helmet, shoulder, forearm, fist, hand or elbow to attack with forcible contact at the head or neck area

  • Lowering the head before attacking by initiating forcible contact with the crown of the helmet

Note 2: Defenseless player (Rule 2-27-14). When in question, a player is defenseless. Examples of defenseless players include but are not limited to:

  • A player in the act of or just after throwing a pass.

  • A receiver attempting to catch a forward pass or in position to receive a backward pass, or one who has completed a catch and has not had time to protect himself or has not clearly become a ball carrier.

  • A kicker in the act of or just after kicking a ball, or during the kick or the return.

  • A kick returner attempting to catch or recover a kick, or one who has completed a catch or recovery and has not had time to protect himself or has not clearly become a ball carrier.

  • A player on the ground.

  • A player obviously out of the play.

  • A player who receives a blind-side block.

  • A ball carrier already in the grasp of an opponent and whose forward progress has been stopped.

  • A quarterback any time after a change of possession A ball carrier who has obviously given himself up and is sliding feet first.