Patrick Mahomes, others react to targeting non-call at end of Michigan-TCU College Football Playoff semifinal

Michigan entered Saturday’s Fiesta Bowl against TCU as a significant favorite to advance to the College Football Playoff national championship game. Then the Wolverines had their dreams dashed with a 51-45 loss that ended in controversial fashion.

Facing a fourth-and-long in the closing seconds, Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy fumbled the snap, triggering a mad scramble that ended with a short gain — but also potential targeting by the Horned Frogs.

MORE: Fiesta Bowl officials draw ire after Michigan touchdown overturned

After review, the call on the field of no targeting stood, ultimately locking the game up for TCU and eliminating Michigan.

Michigan had its share of struggles throughout the game. McCarthy threw two pick-sixes and there were myriad defensive lapses. But a targeting call would have kept their last-gasp drive going.

The decision not to call it after a review befuddled people who thought the crew engaged in situational officiating.

MORE: Horned Frogs stun Wolverines. punch ticket to national championship in instant classic

What is targeting?

College football implemented the tageting rule to protect players from head trauma and establish big repercussions for players who compromise other players’ safety.

According to the NCAA rulebook: “No player shall initiate contact and target an opponent with the crown (top) of his helmet. When in question, it is a foul.”

MORE: Watch the College Football Playoff live with fuboTV (free trial)

Players also can’t launch themselves at opponents or hit defenseless players.

Why wasn’t TCU called for targeting?

This is what some people are trying to figure out.

Football Zebras gave its interpretation on Twitter:

“Replay determined no targeting at the end of the #FiestaBowl. The “crown” was re-defined at the beginning of the season to be more narrow – this hit was likely too much on the side of the helmet for replay to add foul,” the poster wrote.

A different angle of the hit:

Football world reacts

Much of the football world was tuned into this game, which means opinions were flying. Those who played at the college or NFL level seemed split about whether targeting should have been called. Analysts thought the situation influenced the officials’ decision to swallow the whistle.

One prominent former player — albeit with a rooting interest — wanted a call:

This sequence will help to fuel another offseason of debate about what is and isn’t targeting. All we know now for sure is that TCU will be playing for the national championship on Jan. 9.

Leave a Comment