Joe Glenn confirmed today that South Dakota has lost it's appeal of the targeting call against standout linebacker Tyler Starr. That means Starr - who leads the team with nine-and-a-half tackles for loss and six sacks this season - will have to sit out the first half of Saturday's game against Indiana State (1-4, 0-1 MVFC).
Glenn submitted the play in question - which occurred during the fourth quarter of Saturday's win over Missouri State - to Missouri Valley Football Conference Director of Officiating Bill Carollo on Sunday. He ruled that Starr's hit did, in fact, fit the NCAA's definition of a targeting foul. Here's how that reads in the 2013 rule book:
Targeting Fouls: Automatic Ejection, Part I
Players will automatically be disqualified from the game for targeting fouls, including (Rule 9-1-3) targeting and initiating contact with the crown of the helmet, and (Rule 9-1-4) targeting and initiating contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent with the helmet, forearm, elbow, or shoulder. The foul itself has not changed. These plays have been illegal for a number of years, but the penalty has stiffened to include automatic ejection plus the 15-yard penalty.
Targeting Fouls: Automatic Ejection, Part II
A player is at great risk of being ejected from the game for a launch (leaving his feet to attack an opponent by an upward and forward thrust of the body to make contact in the head or neck area); a crouch (followed by an upward and forward thrust to attack with contact at the head or neck area); leading (with helmet, forearm, fist, hand or elbow to attack with contact at the head or neck area); or lowering (the head before attacking by initiating contact with the crown of the helmet).
Carollo's three-person appeal board also upheld the decision of the on-field officials, effectively finalizing Starr's suspension.
Incidentally, former NFL VP of Officiating Mike Periera, who now works as an analyst for Fox Sports, also concurred:
@ElsenMidcoSN >>You know me. I don't like the rule but that does seem to be targeting
— Mike Pereira (@MikePereira) October 6, 2013
Whether you like the decision or not, its seems to be one of those "if there's smoke, there's fire" things.
Given the NCAA's increasingly-intolerant stance on helmet-to-helmet contact, I can't say I'm surprised by the ruling. I think it's clear that there was nothing malicious about Starr's hit. But, I've been told intent has nothing to do with it.
Did Starr launch? Yes. Did he make contact in the head or neck area? Yes (although the circumstances of the play may have contributed to that).
Therefore, by the letter of the law, it's targeting.