HOOVER, Ala. - Steve Shaw, the SEC coordinator of officials, spent a few minutes on Wednesday detailing the new targeting rules, which will result in automatic ejection. Shaw called the rule on targeting "the most dramatic" in his tenure as an official.
Targeting consists of the crown of the helmet and a defenseless player. It will result in automatic ejection, just like the fighting rule, according to Shaw.
"We just don't know what happens when you get a concussion, how it effects you when you're 50," Shaw said. "And so that's what we're trying to change is that behavior. Lower your target, keep your head up, see what you hit. And I don't think it'll change the game or your enjoyment of it at all."
The definition of a defenseless player has changed this year. Actually, it's been added to: The quarterback, for instance, is no longer just protected while he's in the pocket, but for the rest of the down.
"It doesn't mean he can't be hit. It just means he can't be hit above the shoulders," Shaw said.
A player charged with targeting in the first half will be thrown out for the remainder of the game. If the targeting occurs in the second half, then the player will be suspended for the first half of the following game.
"Playing time is a motivator to our players. We think this will have a pretty significant impact," Shaw said.
But there is a corrective mechanism: If it's determined on replay that the player didn't target above the shoulders, then the suspension can be overridden.
Shaw went on to show replays of some plays from last year that will result in targeting calls. (None involved a Georgia game.) The first two were receivers going over the middle who were hit hard. But then Shaw showed a punt return, in which a player running downfield on punt coverage was blind-sided. That will also result in a targeting call.
There are other less drastic changes this year, according to Shaw. The most notable is for players having to leave when his helmet comes off. The player still has to leave for a play, unless his team calls a timeout, in which case the player can be on the field for the following play.