In the Wisconsin Badgers' 28-3 victory over Troy Saturday, two players were ejected for targeting offensive players. After the calls were made and the players, junior inside linebacker Leon Jacobs and sophomore cornerback Derrick Tindal, were removed, there was a strong criticism from much of the Badgers media and fan base.
Jim Polzin of the Wisconsin State Journal took part in a reporter pool interview with referee Jeffrey Servinski after the game. Below is the transcript from the interview:
Pool reporter question: What rule was applied on first play that led to the ejection?
Answer: We have the targeting foul, that we have two components of targeting in NCAA football: using the crown of the helmet, as well as targeting a defenseless player. And there are definitions of defenseless players. If you want, I can read you those. The quarterback is one. So it was the quarterback - he's defenseless. So with a quarterback, any forcible contact to the head or neck area is targeting. So he's in a defenseless mode, because he had just thrown the ball. It was not roughing the passer, because of the timing of it. So roughing the passer was not on the table. But the contact was to the head or neck area, so we need to look at was it forcible contact to the head or the neck. It was determined that it was. So that was the rule that was applied.
Pool reporter question: Which rule is it?
Answer: That is 9-1-4.
Pool reporter question: So in your opinion the Wisconsin player made contact with the quarterback's neck or head
Answer: My opinion is that the foul gets called, we go to replay. Replay either confirms, they stand or they reverse it. The shots that they had confirmed the foul that there was that scenario. I would give you my opinion, but I can't because I didn't have the foul.
Pool reporter question: Can you tell me the rule that was applied the second play that led to the ejection?
Answer: We have a receiver, he falls into a defenseless category. Any contact to the head or neck, just like in the other one, we're going to have a foul. So it's 9-1-4 that was applied in the second scenario as well.
Pool reporter question: Is there any gray area with that rule? On the AFCA website, it defines what targeting is and it says "to take aim at an opponent for purposes of attacking with apparent intent that goes beyond making a legal tackle or a legal block or playing the ball. So in the opinion of the crew and the replay official, the second play the Wisconsin player was going beyond making a legal tackle?
Pool reporter question: Do you factor that the receiver is a moving target and the play is happening so fast?
Pool reporter question: Any benefit of the doubt for the defensive player?
Pool reporter question: Would you say the benefit of the doubt goes to the offensive player?
Answer: The defensive player, when we have a defenseless player, can not target to the head or neck area.
Pool reporter question: If an offensive player ducks his head, like in the case of the second play, when he's falling to the ground and ducking his head, does that make a difference?
Answer: He's a defenseless player. If there's contact to the head or neck area, we have a targeting.
Pool reporter question: Was the second play a forearm? Any mention of that?
Answer: When you talk about targeting, helmet, forearm, shoulder, anything from that perspective that targets into the head or neck area, it's a foul. So from replay's perspective, they just needed to make sure that there's forcible contact to the head or neck area with a shoulder, forearm or head. To tell you which one it was, I can't tell you that, other than they confirmed that foul.
Pool reporter question: Replay could have said ... (question interrupted)
Answer: If there would not have been contact to the head or neck area, we would have reversed both scenarios.
Pool reporter question: The ejection wouldn't have stood, but the targeting penalty wouldn't have stood, either?
Answer: Nope, no penalty. And that's why I made mention of the quarterback earlier. If we would have had, per se, if we would have deemed it was roughing the passer, we would have said, ‘personal foul, roughing the passer, with targeting.' So then, if the targeting goes away, we still have the roughing the passer foul we would enforce. In the play on the wide receiver, you could potentially have pass interference, with targeting. We're not going to review the foul for (defensive pass interference), we're not going to remove the foul for roughing the passer, but the targeting component of it is reviewed.