NORMAN — Oklahoma senior running back Brennan Clay voiced strong opposition to the NCAA's strict new rules regarding “targeting” penalties, created to protect players from violent hits to the head and neck.
“It's kind of taking away from the game,” Clay said Saturday. “Football is football; you can't be thinking about where you've gotta hit this guy. Is my head up? You've just gotta make that tackle.”
Clay is an interesting opponent to the rule, considering a hit that might now be penalized sent him to the hospital with a concussion three years ago.
Early in the fourth quarter of a September 2010 home game against Florida State, Clay — then a true freshman — caught a swing pass and made one Seminoles defender miss before safety Nick Moody crouched, then thrusted up at Clay's helmet, knocking him unconscious.
Clay was carried off the field on a stretcher.
According to new NCAA rules, a player penalized for targeting must sit out the rest of the half and the next half; the latter can be the second half of the current game or the first half of the next game.
“I think you've gotta remind your players those shots, when people take somebody's head off, that's old-school football; that's long gone,” said OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. “It's not safe. I agree with protecting all the players. I think it's sickening to see a player get hit, hurt that's unprotected. That doesn't take much bravery.”
Coaches can challenge the targeting penalty, but even if the replay official rules in the defender's favor and he isn't ejected, the 15-yard penalty stands.
“I think that's a little harsh,” Clay said. “I think it should just be a 15-yarder. ... If you do it twice, that should be an ejection.”