Murray, though, views the change as a good thing. He said his officiating crew only called the penalty once all of last season, but this gives them a solid rule to back them up in the future.
“It just gives us a better definition to work with as far as they spelled out what targeting is,” Murray said. “I don't think it's going to be any different than what it's called in the past. Any time you hit somebody above their head, it always has that potential for a penalty.”
Norman North coach Wade Standley views the definition as a natural progression to protect players.
“We want to be able to play the game the way it's supposed to be played as far within the rules,” he said. “More than anything, you want to be able to protect the defenseless player, you want to be able to teach the kid to tackle properly so the tackler's not getting hurt as well. I think it's just part of just making sure that we ensure the athlete's safety and that we continue to do that.”
That's also why the NFHS approved two new requirements for the kicking team. Now, at least four members of the kicking team must be on each side of the kicker. Also, other than the kicker, no members of the kicking team may be more than five yards behind the kicking team's free line.
And that's why the organization and the OSSAA will continue to closely monitor ways to minimize the risk of players.
“The targeting thing is a big deal,” Whaley said. “I think it needs to be worked through the entire system. What I mean is the rule makers have made their statement, the officials that officiate the game need to their part, the coaches that coach the game need to do their part, the state associations that coordinate officials, coaches and the game need to do their part.
“I think there isn't anybody today that isn't somewhat concerned about the future of the game as far as risk minimization.”