The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

What is targeting?

19 days ago

WHAT IS TARGETING?

" 'Targeting' means that a player takes aim at an opponent for purposes of attacking with forcible contact that goes beyond making a legal tackle or a legal block or playing the ball."

The targeting rule was developed as a player safety measure. Below is the definition of targeting taken directly from the 2019 NCAA Football Rule Book. Familiarize yourself with this rule and refer to it the next time you see a play and ask, "Was that targeting?"

Targeting - NCAA Rule Book 2019

Rule 9 - Conduct of Players and Others Subject to the Rules

Section 1. Personal Fouls

Targeting and Making Forcible Contact With the Crown of the Helmet
ARTICLE 3. No player shall target and make forcible contact against an opponent with the crown of his helmet. This foul requires that there be at least one indicator of targeting (See Note 1 below). When in question, it is a foul. (Rule 9-6) (A.R. 9-1-3-I)

Targeting and Making Forcible Contact to Head or Neck Area of a Defenseless Player
ARTICLE 4. No player shall target and make forcible contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent (See Note 2 below) with the helmet, forearm, hand, fist, elbow or shoulder. This foul requires that there be at least one indicator of targeting (See Note 1 below). When in question, it is a foul (Rules 2-27-14 and 9-6). (A.R. 9-1-4-I-VI)

Note 1: "Targeting" means that a player takes aim at an opponent for purposes of attacking with forcible contact that goes beyond making a legal tackle or a legal block or playing the ball. Some indicators of targeting include but are not limited to:

  • Launch-a player leaving his feet to attack an opponent by an upward and forward thrust of the body to make forcible contact in the head or neck area
  • A crouch followed by an upward and forward thrust to attack with forcible contact at the head or neck area, even though one or both feet are still on the ground
  • Leading with helmet, shoulder, forearm, fist, hand or elbow to attack with forcible contact at the head or neck area
  • Lowering the head before attacking by initiating forcible contact with the crown of the helmet

Note 2: Defenseless player (Rule 2-27-14). When in question, a player is defenseless. Examples of defenseless players include but are not limited to:

  • A player in the act of or just after throwing a pass.
  • A receiver attempting to catch a forward pass or in position to receive a backward pass, or one who has completed a catch and has not had time to protect himself or has not clearly become a ball carrier.
  • A kicker in the act of or just after kicking a ball, or during the kick or the return. 
  • A kick returner attempting to catch or recover a kick, or one who has completed a catch or recovery and has not had time to protect himself or has not clearly become a ball carrier.
  • A player on the ground.
  • A player obviously out of the play.
  • A player who receives a blind-side block.
  • A ball carrier already in the grasp of an opponent and whose forward progress has been stopped.
  • A quarterback any time after a change of possession A ball carrier who has obviously given himself up and is sliding feetfirst.

PENALTY- [ARTICLE 3 and ARTICLE 4]-15 yards. For dead-ball fouls, 15 yards from the succeeding spot. Automatic first down for fouls by Team B if not in conflict with other rules. For fouls in the first half: Disqualification for the remainder of the game. (Rule 2-27-12) For fouls in the second half: Disqualification for the remainder of the game and the first half of the next game. If the foul occurs in the second half of the last game of the season, players with remaining eligibility shall serve the suspension during the postseason or the first game of the following season.

If a player receives a third Targeting foul within the same season, disqualification for the remainder of the game and that player will receive an automatic one-game suspension in his team's next scheduled game. Targeting fouls subsequent to the player's third Targeting foul within the same season, disqualification for the remainder of that game and the player will receive an automatic one-game suspension in his team's next scheduled game. If the foul occurs in the last game of the season, players with remaining eligibility shall serve the suspension during the postseason or the first game of the following season.

The disqualification must be reviewed by Instant Replay (Rule 12-3-5). [S38, S24 and S47]

When the Instant Replay Official reverses the disqualification: If the targeting foul is not in conjunction with another personal foul by the same player, the 15-yard penalty for targeting is not enforced. If the player commits another personal foul in conjunction with the targeting foul, the 15-yard penalty for that personal foul is enforced according to rule. (A. R. 9-1-4-VII-VIII)

For games in which Instant Replay is not used: If a player is disqualified in the first half, at the option of the conference or by pre-game mutual agreement of the teams in inter-conference games, during the intermission between halves the Referee will be provided a video of the play in question for his review in the officials' private secure location. The Referee will review the video to determine whether the disqualification is reversed. The decision of the Referee is final. (A. R. 9-1-4-IX)

Note: The video source and the location of the review will be determined prior to the game through mutual agreement of the teams and the Referee. If a player is disqualified in the second half, the conference has the option to consult the national coordinator of football officials who would then facilitate a video review. Based on the review, if and only if the national coordinator concludes that the player should not have been disqualified, the conference may vacate the suspension. If the national coordinator supports the disqualification, the suspension for the next game will remain.