Yesterday, Alabama head coach Nick Saban was asked about the NCAA’s new targeting rule which calls for a 15-yard penalty and the ejection of a player after a wide array of possible hits (defenseless players, crown of the helmet, above the shoulders… the rule is as clear as mud). His team fell victim to the new rule last weekend.
On Saturday, Tide safety Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix was flagged for targeting and booted from Bama’s game with Texas A&M. However, the ejection portion of that penalty is subject to review and, in this case, it was ruled that Clinton-Dix could continue to play. Fine. But that replay does not allow a booth official to overturn the 15-yard penalty call. So Alabama saw that yardage marched off in A&M’s favor.
“Personally, on the rule itself, if you can review a play to say a guy should be ejected or not be ejected, to me, you should be able to review if it was a penalty or not a penalty. That’s not what the rule is. You asked my opinion. I’m giving you my opinion.”
Below you can watch the play for yourself. You’ll see that Clinton-Dix was going for the interception and, as CBS analyst Gary Danielson put it, he and A&M receiver Derel Walker “just bumped into each other.”
This won’t be the last time you see the new targeting rule lead to controversy in a big game. It is a rule with multiple interpretations. Which makes it a bad rule.