Targeting Ejections Overshadow CFB Primetime Game

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Monday night’s primetime college football game between Ole Miss and Louisville garnered plenty of attention, but for all the wrong reasons. Instead of riding the wave of a weekend full of packed college stadiums and nail-biting finishes, viewers were left agitated because of the NCAA’s clunky targeting rules, which caused four players to be ejected before halftime.

The Rebels ultimately cruised to a 43-24 win in a game in which Louisville failed to score until the third quarter. But make no mistake, the officials left Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium as the game’s biggest losers.

What drew the ire of most fans was the fact that the targeting calls seemed like “bang-bang” plays that left defenders with no other options. Few would argue that the hits in question were actually dirty or intentional. Replay reviews had everyone from the game’s announcers to Ray Charles questioning the penalties.

Fox Sports’ Joel Klatt was active on Twitter during the game, pleading for the NCAA to address the maddening issues with targeting:

“It is officiated wildly inconsistent & yet carries the most punitive consequences! Must be addressed!”

Rebels head coach Lane Kiffin, who missed the game due to COVID, was interviewed by ESPN’s Molly McGrath at halftime and couldn’t resist taking a shot at the officials: “We just need this Big Ten officiating crew (working the game) to teach us how to tackle because, obviously, we don’t know.”

Kiffin was far from the only one who left Monday night feeling confused.


Written by Anthony Farris


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  1. I thought they were supposed to address the ejection rule this past offseason? These may have been targeting penalties by the book but ejecting players for it can swing the entire game into the favor of the other team by taking players off the field. I hate the ejection rule unless it’s clearly maliciously where the guy has plenty of time to decide and goes high with the helmet in the open field. That first one was bang bang with the back coming through the hole, it was split second reaction, and should not have been an ejection. Targeting should be a 15 yard personal foul on the first unless it’s obviously malicious in the open field on a defenseless player, then if you get any other personal foul after you’re gone. This one and done stuff on subjective calls impacts the game too much. Ole miss still steamrolled Louisville without some starters, but it may not always go that way in big games.

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