Mark Brennan/FOS

B1G: Penn State Targeting Call Should Have Been Reversed

The Big Ten admits that Nittany Lion linebacker Brandon Smith should not have been ejected from last week's game vs. the Wolverines.

Upon further review … of the original further review … Penn State linebacker Brandon Smith should not have been ejected for targeting from last Saturday's 49-10 loss at Michigan.

In a statement issued Wednesday (see below), the Big Ten said it was OK with a call on the field where Smith was called for targeting when he hit Wolverine receiver Grant Perry near the end zone in the second quarter.

"We do not find fault with the flag that was thrown by the on-field officials as they are instructed to prioritize player safety when making calls,” the statement said.

However, the call was upheld on review, and as such Smith was ejected from the game.

In the statement issued Wednesday, the Big Ten said that was incorrect.

"Targeting occurs when a player takes aim at an opponent, whether the crown of the helmet is used to make forcible contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent, or whether there is forcible contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent that goes beyond making a legal tackle, a legal block, or playing the ball.  In this particular play, the defender was making a legitimate attempt to get to the ball and, upon full review, the call of Targeting should have been reversed by the Replay Official."

The ejection was especially difficult for a PSU team that was already playing without three injured starting linebackers.

Here is the entire statement.

ROSEMONT, Ill. – During Saturday’s Penn State at Michigan football game, a Penn State defensive player was ejected for targeting with 14:55 remaining in the 2nd quarter. We do not find fault with the flag that was thrown by the on-field officials as they are instructed to prioritize player safety when making calls.

Targeting occurs when a player takes aim at an opponent, whether the crown of the helmet is used to make forcible contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent, or whether there is forcible contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent that goes beyond making a legal tackle, a legal block, or playing the ball.  In this particular play, the defender was making a legitimate attempt to get to the ball and, upon full review, the call of Targeting should have been reversed by the Replay Official.

Prior to the 2016 season, the NCAA granted additional authority to Replay Officials when reviewing on-field targeting calls by changing the standard of review. As a result, the Replay Official now has the authority to re-officiate and review all aspects of the on-field targeting call and in the absence of specific indicators identified by NCAA targeting standards, the Replay Official can reverse the on-field call. Additionally, Replay Officials have the ability, and responsibility, to independently review potential targeting plays that are egregious and not seen, or called, on the field.

Protecting the health and safety of our students will continue to be our highest priority.


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