UIL adjusts "targeting rule" ahead of 2019 football season
HOUSTON – Getting flagged for targeting won't mean an automatic ejection anymore in Texas high school football.
Heading into the 2019 season, the UIL has added a wrinkle to the targeting rule where referees will have the option to flag a player for targeting, which will result in a 15-yard penalty but not an automatic ejection if it is deemed that the play was made without "intent to harm".
"What coaches, officials and we all agree on is that by having that differentiation you will see officials be more comfortable calling targeting," UIL Director of Athletics Dr. Susan Elza said. "What we found in feedback we got from coaches and officials was there were times that it was probably targeting but I'm not sure. But if I throw this flag and call it that kid's out for the rest of the game. If it's early in the first quarter, that's a big deal. So, they were keeping the flag in their pocket, they were going to make absolute sure it was targeting."
Last season if a player was flagged for targeting he was then ejected for the remainder of the game. Now, officials will have an option.
If it is deemed that the player did not have "intent to harm" on the play, then they can stay in the game but if they get a second targeting penalty of that sort they are then ejected.
"TASO football is very excited about this," Elza said. "They think it's going to make it a lot easier on the officials to feel comfortable making that call."
The biggest difference between the UIL and NCAA version of the rules is at the high school level, referees do not have the option to review the play with video. It is a call they must make on the field without that technology.
In the 2018 UIL State Football Championship games instant replay was utilized for the first time, which is still the only games that will have instant replay. The one thing that was not reviewable last season was targeting.
"This year we are modifying it to [the NCAA] criteria," Elza said. "So, it will be reviewed in the booth this year because of that criteria. It makes sense to add it back now."