Each year Steve Shaw announces rule changes and new points of emphasis for officials at SEC Media Days. This year the conference’s coordinator of officials did not bring forth earth shattering news.
The targeting rule remains the same. Defenders cannot launch into a defenseless opponent, lead with the head, neck or shoulder or lower the head to create contact with the crown of the helmet. There’s plenty nuance to the reviewable penalty, but that’s the nuts and bolts.
This year things change once they go to replay. Previously officials had three potential outcomes following a targeting review:
1. The call is confirmed and the player is ejected.
2. The call on the field stands.
3. The call is overturned, waiving the 15-yard penalty and ejection.
To remove any ambiguity, “the call stands” is no longer an option for officials. All elements of targeting must be confirmed by replay to eject a player from the game. If any element cannot be proved, the call will be overturned. By removing any ambiguous potential targeting, there should be fewer erroneous ejections.
There are two other rule changes you need to remember. Blind-side blocks are now illegal. If a player wants to earhole somebody, they’re going to get a 15-yard penalty. Also, once teams reach a fifth overtime, the game becomes a two-point conversion contest.