Oklahoma Sooners football: Jordan Evans ejection was correct call


With 5:04 remaining in the first quarter, Oklahoma Sooners linebacker Jordan Evans lowered the crown of his helmet and made direct contact with the helmet of Louisiana Tech quarterback Cody Sokol. The officials found Evans’ hit fell under the rule of targeting and Evans was ejected. The review confirmed the ruling on the field.

Whether or not you like it, this was the correct call.

By rule, he was going to be disqualified the second he made contact with the helmet of Sokol.

If you read the rule stated by the NCAA, the infraction was textbook case for ejection. It’s not even needed to mention that Evans could have let up. It wasn’t proper tackling technique, nor was the hit even needed, Sokol was in the process of giving up his body and sliding.

As an official in the NCAA for a few years, this is something we’re seeing become more prevalent in players. They want to the large hit. They want to hear the oo’s and aah’s as they “rock the hit stick” as one player told me. Evans could have leapt over Sokol, or could have not lowered his head to near his own waist when he struck the quarterback.

You could say it’s still a rule to adjust to, and that’s definitely true. Players are taught to get big hits and it’s tough when in just two years, you’re told you can’t do that anymore. So, It’s tough to adjust how you’re playing for many years. I’ll put it on coaching. When coaching proper tackling technique, the head never drops so low and the helmets will never collide in this case.

It’s worse that instant replay repeatedly showed the helmet-to-helmet contact by Evans, making it an easy call by the officials. Evans. Referee Dan Romero backs up this with a quote from after the game:

"“The official that made the call felt the quarterback was sliding, was giving himself up as a participant in the play which made himself defenseless. The defender lowered his head. He initiated forceful contact by leading with the helmet and contact the quarterbacks’ helmet.” via Tulsa World"

So, as you see, there is nothing about intent or maliciousness in what Evans did. It’s about the safety of the players first and foremost. Us officials aren’t out to ruin the game of football. We’re about preserving players who want to play. If that is “sissifying” college football, then so be it. I’d rather a player finish a game concussion free, than witness a bone jarring hit that sent a player out on a stretcher.

I will admit this rule is called with a lot of inconsistency. It’s about being a judgement call. There may be officials who feel certain targeting penalties that should not have been called, but then there are others who are very adamant in what is targeting. It will very from game to game, from crew to crew. It is also applied to other penalties, such as holding and others. I may have a more strict definition of what holding is than my counter part. It’s not that either of us are wrong, it’s that we have a different style of officiating.

In the end of all this, officials aren’t perfect. They’re out there to keep everyone safe and make sure the game continues flowing. In a perfect world, we would call a game and you wouldn’t even know our names or even remember we’re on the field. However, in such a media frenzied sport like football, especially social media for college football, that’s nearly impossible. Remember, we’re humans and we all have the same goal, player safety.