Zach Barnett (footballscoop.com) — The AFCA closed its 2019 convention on Wednesday with executive director Todd Berry’s annual press conference, following a multi-hour meeting with FBS head coaches. It’s when Berry lays out the organization’s legislative agenda for the upcoming year, and the top line item for 2019 is the targeting rule.
In short, just like fans, coaches are tired of seeing targeting misdemeanors treated like felonies, and now they’d like to see the NCAA do something about it.
The AFCA would like to see the NCAA install a red card/yellow card system to the targeting penalty. A Targeting 1 call would be the yellow card, calling for a 15-yard penalty and allowing the offending player to remain in the game. A Targeting 2 flag would carry the same punishment as the current rule, where the player is removed from the remainder of the game as well as the first half of his next game if the foul occurs in the second half.
Importantly, Berry did not market this agenda as a softening of the targeting rule, just adding some common sense to a necessary rule. To back that up, he said coaches would like to see players be suspended if they receive multiple Targeting 2 flags.
But most of all, they don’t want to see a player making a safe tackle who happened to collide with the helmet of an offensive player who lowered his head at the last moment removed from the game. This one is a very, very costly one for a student-athlete that has very limited attempts to play the game,” Berry said. “For them to be eliminated, we think, is pretty severe.”
Now, the devil is in the details of every rule change, and most of those details are yet to be worked out. How many Targeting 2 flags would necessitate a suspension, and how long should that suspension last? In soccer, two yellow flags equal one red flag. Would two Targeting 1s equal a Targeting 2? That would seem silly since Targeting 1 is a flag of innocent intent. But how about four? “I think that’s open for discussion,” Berry said.
The good and bad news is there’s ample time for said discussion. The NCAA is not in a legislative year, meaning any changes would not take effect until the 2020 football season. Berry will spend the time between then and now making his stump speech to the necessary parties to build consensus for what his organization views as a necessary change.