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Penn State Football: Big Ten Says Brandon Smith Targeting Call Should Have Been Reversed

by on September 28, 2016 3:30 PM

The Big Ten announced on Wednesday that Penn State linebacker Brandon Smith shouldn't have been ejected during the Nittany Lions' loss to Michigan this past Saturday following a controversial targeting call. Smith's primary action appeared to be making a play on a low pass in the endzone rather than a hit on a Michigan receiver.

"We do not find fault with the flag that was thrown by the on-field officials as they are instructed to prioritize player safety when making calls," The conference said in a statement.

"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, or whether there is 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. In this particular play, the defender was making a legitimate attempt to get to the ball and, upon full review, the call of Targeting should have been reversed by the Replay Official."

Penn State coach James Franklin somewhat reluctantly agreed with the call on the field following the loss, in the very least did not actively protest during his postgame interview session. Franklin said that Penn State wouldn't submit the play to the Big Ten for review, although it appears that was not the case following Wednesday's announcement.

"It's the right call," Penn State coach James Franklin said after the game. "If you have helmet to helmet contact with a defensive player, there's no grey area."

Smith was playing in his first start for Penn State in relief of the injured Nyeem Wartman-White. Following Smith's ejection Jan Johnson replaced him but suffered his own season-ending injury during the game. A targeting call carries a half-long suspension, but Smith was ejected in the first half, meaning he will miss no time this weekend in Penn State's meeting with Minnesota.

James Franklin is scheduled to speak to the media following Wednesday's practice.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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