On Wednesday afternoon, the Big Ten issued a statement admitting a targeting call that resulted in a Penn State player being ejected from last Saturday’s loss at Michigan was incorrect.
When asked about the statement a few hours later, Nittany Lion coach James Franklin did not exactly tackle the topic head-on.
“I know what you guys would love … to see me get fined,” he said with a smile. “But I’m not going to. … They made their statement, I appreciate their making the statement. … I don’t want to go down that road. I’m gonna let it go.”
The play in question happened early in the second quarter of what became a 49-10 Penn State loss. Linebacker Brandon Smith was attempting to make an interception near his own goal line when he collided with Wolverine receiver Grant Perry.
The officials on the field flagged Smith for targeting, which was OK as far as the Big Ten was concerned since at game speed it appeared that might have been the case. But replays clearly showed Smith going for the interception, which the Big Ten said should have been caught by the replay official — and resulted in the call being overturned.
After the game, Franklin said it was a good call, based on what he was told by the officials. Wednesday, he expanded on that a bit.
“As you guys know, I can’t say a whole lot about any of these types of things,” Franklin said. “I was told one thing during the game, so I re-enforced that in the press conference, what I was told. And then obviously we’ve been in discussions with the Big Ten since then and they came out with a statement today.”
When asked about targeting in general, Franklin said he appreciates officials erring on the side of caution. But he was happy to see the Big Ten’s statement, just the same.
“Targeting in general, I get it, I understand,” he said. “It’s important for our game that we do everything we possibly can to protect the student-athletes and protect the game. But it is tough. You’re going in to tackle the guy, you’re being aggressive. I think we’ve done a pretty good job with (it) in general.
“That was kind of a unique situation (in the Michigan game),” he added. “So I think that’s one of the reasons the Big Ten came out with a statement, to make sure everybody is clear, because it’s a little bit of a gray area. But there’s clearly a clause (in the rule) for if you’re going for the ball.”