Penn State football lost freshman LB Abdul Carter to a targeting call that had college football Twitter in midseason form bemoaning the controversial rule.
The return of college football is great. We get to bask in the brilliance rivalry, school pride, chaos and unpredictability.
Unfortunately, it also means the return of one of the most misguided rules in sports: Targeting ejections.
Every year, teams across college football get screwed by overaggressive calling of the targeting rule, which results in an automatic ejection.
In their season opener against Purdue, it was Penn State on the wrong end of the first terrible targeting call of the season.
Penn State linebacker Abdul Carter ejected for targeting
Freshman Abdul Carter was making his debut for the Nittany Lions when he went after a loose ball on an incompletion. It wasn’t a late hit after the whistle. It was a football play with incidental contact to the head.
The refs ejected him for it.
Twitter went after them and the rule for it.
Protecting players from head injuries is a noble aim. But ejecting players for incidental contact while playing the game in the most basic ways is taking it all a football field’s worth of steps too far. It doesn’t have to be this way.
There are tons of ways to fix the rule. Allow referees to award a penalty without an ejection. Make the ejection based on clear intent. Or make it an ejection after two infractions.
Anything would be better than the way the rule is currently applied.
Things didn’t exactly go smoothly for Penn State in general on Thursday night. They trailed Purdue late in the second quarter in a dud of an opening half for their season.