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NCAA rule change to help limit head injuries

HOOVER, Ala. -- Making football a safer game is enough of an NCAA concern that a new rule change regarding hits above the shoulders will be implemented this season. And SEC Coordinator of Officials Steve Shaw, in his annual comments to reporters at SEC Media Days, called it nothing less than "the most significant rule change in my tenure, ever."

That's a mouthful for a guy who officiated for 21 seasons, including 15 in the SEC, and is now in his third year as the head of the league's officials. The NCAA defines a "targeting" foul as a hit to a defenseless player above the shoulders. The foul itself, Shaw said, hasn't changed much -- just a slight expansion of the definition of a defenseless player.

What's really new is the penalty.

"If you have a targeting foul that's committed in the first half of a game, then you're going to be disqualified for that game," Shaw said. "If you have a targeting foul that's committed in the second half of a game, you'll be disqualified for the rest of that game plus the first half of the next game."

The NFL has taken recent steps to curb head injuries, as well.

Shaw said targeting fouls will also be open to instant replay review.

"This is an important foul, and if it's called, we have to be right 100 percent of the time," he said.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.

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