Targeting calls set record, AP finds Pac-12, SEC had most

FILE - In this Dec. 2, 2017, file photo, Akron cornerback Alvin Davis (1) passes against Toledo during the first quarter of the Mid-American Conference championship NCAA college football game, in Detroit. Targeting penalties in the top tier of college football reached an all-time high this season and the Pac-12 and Southeastern conferences had the most players flagged, according to an analysis of NCAA data and research by The Associated Press.  Akron cornerback Alvin Davis Jr. was flagged for targeting three times, most in the nation, and seven other players were each flagged twice. (AP Photo/Jose Juarez, File)

Targeting penalties in the Football Bowl Subdivision increased for the fourth straight season and an analysis by The Associated Press found that the Pac-12 and SEC had the most players flagged this season.

The NCAA reported an all-time high of 188 enforced targeting calls in 832 regular-season games. That’s 30 percent more than last year, when there were 144 in 839 games.

National coordinator of officials Rogers Redding of the NCAA says player behavior has changed for the better in the 10 years since the targeting penalty was introduced. He attributes the increase in calls to officials getting better at detecting the penalty, the willingness of replay officials to call fouls missed on the field and the recent expansion of the definition of a defenseless player.

The AP found that a nation-high 30 targeting calls against Pac-12 players. The Southeastern Conference had 27 calls.

Seven FBS teams had at least five targeting calls. Akron cornerback Alvin Davis Jr. was flagged three times, most in the nation, and seven other players twice apiece.

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