Saban defends hit as not targeting
TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 28: Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide walks the field during pregame warmups prior to facing the Mississippi Rebels at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 28, 2013 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Nick Saban has lost his mind. I know coaches always like to defend their players, do or die. But, this is insane…

Bama linebacker Mack Wilson drilled Texas A&M’s Speedy Noil on a kickoff return in what is the most perfect example of targeting you can have.

Saban addressed the hit while speaking to the Monday Morning Quarterback Club in Tuscaloosa.

“It was a great hit,” Saban said. “I know some people made something about the fact that it was targeting, but it’s not an unprotected player. The guy’s running with the ball. So, we always tell our players that we want you to lower your target and see what you hit even when you tackle so that we don’t get in those situations. But that wasn’t a foul because it was not an unprotected player.”

Coach, this has nothing to do with the ball carrier being unprotected, defenseless, or however you want to describe it.

Put this in the referee textbook under “what targeting looks like”. Wilson’s hit was blatant targeting. It was a helmet to helmet hit, which is illegal. He launched his body to strike the runner above the shoulders, which is also illegal. Wilson should have been ejected for targeting.

Nick Saban is being irresponsible for trying to defend this type of hit. He will be on the other end of one of these hits, at some point, and lose an important player to injury. Hell, it actually happened later in the game, and the A&M player was ejected for targeting on Bama RB Damien Harris. It was the correct call. Harris wasn’t seriously hurt, luckily for Alabama.

In case you forgot the rules of targeting… Watch the Wilson hit again and take a drink for every targeting violation listed below:

College Football Targeting rule guidelines: (via AFCA)


Target—to take aim at an opponent for purposes of attacking with an apparent intent that goes beyond making a legal tackle or a legal block or playing the ball.

Crown of the Helmet—the top portion of the helmet.

Contact to the head or neck area—not only with the helmet, but also with the forearm, fist, elbow, or shoulder—these can all lead to a foul.

Defenseless player—a player not in position to defend himself.


Risk of a foul is high with one or more of these:

  • Launch—a player leaving his feet to attack an opponent by an upward and forward thrust of the body to make contact in the head or neck area
  • A crouch followed by an upward and forward thrust to attack with contact at the head or neck area—even though one or both feet are still on the ground
  • Leading with helmet, forearm, fist, hand or elbow to attack with contact at the head or neck area
  • Lowering the head before attacking by initiating contact with the crown of the helmet


  • Don’t lead with your head
  • Lower your target–don’t go for the head or neck area with anything
  • Tackle: Heads-up and wrap-up