NCAA rules deliver harsh penalties to any player who aims for the “head or neck area of a defenseless opponent.” A violation will result in a 15-yard penalty and ejection from the game.
But here’s the part of the rule that can cause an issue: “When in question, it is a foul.”
Clinton-Dix ran his head into a Texas A&M receiver’s head Saturday while chasing a ball. According to the rule as written, the official called it correctly. Witnessed in the speed of the game, there was a question about whether it was targeting, which means Clinton-Dix got a 15-yard penalty and ejection.
There’s a safety valve built into the rule. A replay official reviewed the play, overturned the ejection and allowed Clinton-Dix to return.
But what about the 15-yard penalty? If the replay official can overturn the ejection, why can’t he overturn the penalty, if he catches it before the next play begins?
With the sentence “When in question, it is a foul” included in the rule, it’s clear the NCAA rules committee wants officials to come down on the side of safety in each potential targeting call. But if the 15-yard penalty can’t be overturned, could that possibly have the opposite effect – subconsciously pushing officials to make certain of their targeting calls before throwing a flag that can’t be taken back?
Contact Anniston Star Sports Editor Mark Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @MarkSportsStar.