New NCAA rule must be approved

It falls into the “what took so long?” category. The NCAA is considering a new rule to suspend a player who delivers a blow to the head of a defenseless opponent in addition to the current 15-yard penalty now handed the offending team.

If the penalty occurs in the first half, the offending player would be ejected for the rest of the game. If it comes in the second half or overtime, the player is kicked out for the remainder of the game and the first half of the next game.

The NCAA Football Rules Committee approved the new rule. Now, it’s up to the Playing Rules Oversight Panel to make a final determination next month.

Why the NCAA committee didn’t just consider suspending a player who hits someone above the shoulders for the rest of that game and one full game afterwards to strengthen the rule is beyond me.

But this proposal is a start.

It has been reported 99 targeting penalties were called in the Football Bowl Subdivision last season that under the new rule would have resulted in an ejection.

Many of those illegal hits resulted in a concussion or other injuries that cost players considerable playing time.

Of course, game officials might be on the spot even more in determining whether the offending hit warrants a suspension under the new rule. Plays happen in a second or two and sometimes, it’s difficult to determine the severity – or intention – of the hit.

Apparently, the NCAA would allow the ejection penalty to be reviewed through video replay. The replay official would have to have conclusive evidence the penalized player didn’t intentionally target a defenseless player for the penalty to be overturned.

In the NFL, the same situation often leads to an offending player being fined for a dangerous hit. But what’s a $25,000 or $50,000 fine to a pro player making millions?

An immediate ejection and subsequent suspension might be more of a deterrent, even if it’s the player’s first such offense.

Blows to the head and the concussions that often result are being taken seriously by the NCAA and the NFL.

It has taken far too long for both entities to see the light, but at least some baby steps are being taken to change the culture of players striking a blow to the head of defenseless opponents.

The NCAA’s Playing Rules Oversight Panel should adopt the new rule next month without any debate. Unless it wants to amend the rule and strengthen the ejection to include a full game suspension.

That might make even more of an impact.

Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is