Skip to main content

A Sarcastic Dabo Swinney On Targeting Ejection: "Put Flags On And Take The Pads Off"

One of Clemson's top defensive players was thrown out of the Tigers' game against Wake Forest on Thursday night. Safety Robert Smith -- who leads the team in interceptions and is second in total tackles -- was ejected on a controversial targeting call against Demon Deacons WR Cam Serigne. It appeared that Smith hit Serigne in the chest and that he led with his shoulder, but the officials ruled that it was targeting, and Smith was thrown out of the game. Because he was thrown out in the fourth quarter, Smith will miss the first half of Clemson's showdown with Georgia Tech this week.

On Sunday, Tigers coach Dabo Swinney commented on the hit, and he was understandably upset. Swinney suggested that if hits like the one that led to Smith's ejection are going to be called illegal, then college football is turning into flag football.

"This is a violent, physical, contact sport," Swinney said during his weekly teleconference, according to the (Charleston) Post and Courier. "In my opinion, if we are going to eliminate the play Robert Smith made, then we all just need to put flags on and take the pads off.

Swinney went on to say that the targeting rule is unfair to officials because everyone cares about player safety, and when a ref isn't sure what to do, "you call it and go from there." He also mentioned that rules are catered to protect offensive players, and that defensive players aren't protected enough.

"You've got offensive guys that create helmet-to-helmet contact all the time. We got one of our best players who's going to have to miss a half as a result."

Clemson and Georgia Tech will square off in Atlanta on Saturday. The game is scheduled to kick off at noon on ESPN.

[ESPN]