Clowney May Have Been Ejected Last Year for Legal Hit Under New 'Targeting' Rule
South Carolina's All-World defensive end Jedeveon Clowney's hit on a Michigan running back in the 2013 Outback Bowl is the play and hit of the year, but a new college football rule that calls for an automatic ejection of any player deemed to be "targeting" may have resulted in Clowney's ejection had it been around last season.
Officials have indicated had the rule been in place last year, Clowney, the likely first pick in next year's Draft, would have been ejected for his perfectly legal hit. Others have said ejecting players for legal hits takes football one step closer to flag football and is hypocritical for a sport that often markets hard hits.
Doug Rhoads, the head of officiating for the ACC, said he would eject Clowney if he made a similar hit this year. And Mike Pereira, an NFL officiating guru, also felt Clowney would have been ejected. The NFL has adopted a similar rule.
"When you look at the play by the NFL rules of the runner vs. the tackler, I think it would be [an ejection]," Mike Pereira That's where the danger lies. You take what's perceived to be a great play and it turns into a penalty and an ejection." Pereira said officials will likely eject a player when in doubt.
According to Sports Illustrated, officials will be instructed to look particularly for these things in potentially ejecting a player for targeting:
• Launching toward an opponent to make contact in the head or neck area.
• A crouch followed by an upward and forward thrust with contact at the head or neck area.
• Leading with the helmet, forearm, fist, hand or elbow into the head or neck area.
• Lowering the head before attacking and initiating with the crown of the helmet.