Last weekend’s Florida State-Miami game, Seminoles linebacker Nigel Bradham delivered what looked to be the perfect hit on Miami’s LaRon Byrd. Many have questioned whether or not it was deserving of a penalty. Bradham was ejected from the game for his hit for what refs determined was launching toward a defenseless player. This has happened a number of times this season, so the question is whether or not refs are being too quick to judge or is there a better way to go about monitoring this rule?
Jordan Caldwell, Utah Utes Examiner: It is hard for me to say what the refs saw in real time or at what angle they were at, but that was a textbook hit by a defender in my opinion. Nigel Bradham did not lead with his helmet and he did not launch and leave his feet, which are the two things that usually bring about a targeting call. The subsequent ejection was simply inexcusable. Those refs need to be fined in my honest opinion, as that is the only way to hold them accountable.
Refs all over the nation need to do a better job discussing these hits. There was a very similar hit in Utah’s game against UCLA in which the Utes safety was flagged for targeting. All of the refs conferred and determined that there was nothing illegal about the hit. Any targeting hit needs to be discussed between all officials in my opinion. Seeing things in live action usually look bad, so refs from each angle need to talk about.
Max Price, Oregon Ducks Examiner: I believe that this is a case of referees having too many responsibilities on the field. To ask them to be immediate judges of whether or not hits are fair or foul – on top of everything else they have to do – is preposterous to me. I think we need to think of a better way to monitor this rule, because we certainly can’t have players ejected for hits that appear to be legal. I think this Nigel Bradham his is the perfect example of why the current system doesn’t work.
Kevin McGuire, National College Football Examiner: I will say it can be difficult to make this kind of judgment in real time when you are on the field, however the refs should be capable of making this call on the fly. At times this season it seems as though the refs have erred on the side of caution without consulting with another ref who may have had a better view.
I feel as though the refs are trying to be too “by the book” according to the rules in the interest of player safety. That said, calls like this should be open for personal opinion by the refs, and should be eligible for a video review. If the refs could have a second look at the play they would likely see that there was no foul play in this situation.
Schimri Yoyo, Big East Examiner: I played both defensive back and wideout in high school so I’m biased. I think the hit was a legal hit. I don’t think there was much of a launch and Bradham led with his shoulder. As a defensive back, you’re taught to either get in between your man and the ball or—if you can’t get there in time to get in front of the ball—to separate your man from the ball.
I’m all for player safety, but football is a violent game and the players know the risks involved. When players are getting thrown out for making a legal tackle, something is drastically wrong. I think the rule makers are making the referees too “whistle happy” because they don’t ant to be the ref that misses a call on a catastrophic hit. However, by over-legislating the game, they are putting players at greater risk because they become hesitant or unsure for fear of being penalized. And that split-second of hesitation or uncertainty can be the difference between a high-speed, violent collision that both players walk away from and a high-speed disaster that leads to dismemberment or death.