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Big Ten Says Brandon Smith Should Not Have Been Ejected Vs Michigan

The Big Ten Conference announced today in a statement that the targeting penalty called on Penn State linebacker Brandon Smith should have been reversed.

Smith was tossed in the second quarter after appearing to make deliberate contact with a defenseless Michigan player’s helmet while trying to defend a pass in the endzone. Upon further review of the replay, it’s evident that Smith didn’t make contact with the helmet of Wolverines WR Grant Perry. Even worse, it’s clear as day he was trying to make a play on the ball, and there’s no physical way Smith would’ve been able to pull up.

The Big Ten went on to say that “targeting occurs when a player takes aim at an opponent, whether the crown of the helmet is used to make forcible contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent that goes beyond making a legal tackle, a legal block, or playing the ball.” The call further decimated Penn State’s linebacking corps, forcing the Lions to call on Jan Johnson, who was also lost for the season.

After the game, James Franklin surprisingly sided with the officiating crew instead of defending his player after the game.

“It’s the right call. If you have helmet-to-helmet contact with a defenseless player, there’s no gray area. There’s no intent. My argument was ‘we have just as much of a right to the ball as they do,’ and you see clearly he put his hands out before the ball but that’s not how the rule’s written. That would factor out intent.”

It’s interesting Franklin would say that knowing what we know now about the Big Ten’s stance on the rule. Either Franklin didn’t have a solid understanding of the rule itself, or he didn’t see the replay of the call. Regardless, it’s not a great look for Franklin seeing as everybody else — including the conference his program is associated with — could tell Smith was merely trying to make a football play.


The rule was put into place to protect players, and although it failed Saturday after the officiating crew decided to eject Smith, it says something that the Big Ten was able to recognize its error.

About the Author

David Abruzzese

David is a senior from Rochester, NY, nestled right in beautiful Western New York. He is majoring in Broadcast Journalism, and as an avid sports fan, he passionately supports the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres. He is the first Penn Stater from his family, and couldn’t be prouder to represent Penn State University. In his free time, he likes to alpine ski, and play golf. You can follow him on Twitter @abruz11, and can contact him via email at [email protected]

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