Two Kansas players, Austin Booker (above) and Cobee Bryant, were ejected from Friday's win over Illinois for targeting. Photo Credit: ESPN 2 Kansas’ Austin Booker was ejected for this hit on Illinois quarterback Luke Altmyer. Booker’s teammate, Cobee Bryant, was later ejected for targeting, as well. Photo Credit: ESPN 2

Since its implementation, targeting has been one of the most controversial penalties in not just college football, but all of sports. Another controversy arose on Friday night in Kansas’ 34-23 win over Illinois.

While they won the game, all was not well for the Jayhawks. A pair of Kansas players were ejected for targeting. Since both ejections came in the second half, the players will both be out for the first half of the Jayhawks next game, against Nevada.

Late in the third quarter, Illini quarterback Luke Altmyer made a huge play, scoring on a 72-yard touchdown run. The touchdown trimmed the Illinois deficit to 34-13 so, trying to get to within 19 points, the Fighting Illini went for two.

The conversion initially looked unsuccessful. Altmyer’s pass was incomplete and there were no flags thrown on the play. But, since Altmyer was hit by Kansas’ Austin Booker, the play was reviewed for targeting. The contact was immense, as Altmyer took a while to get back to his feet. But targeting looked far from obvious, which is what it needs to be for the penalty to be called.

Despite that, Booker was eventually flagged for targeting. That gave Illinois another chance at the two-point conversion (which was successful) and meant that Booker was ejected from Friday’s game and will be out for the first half of the Nevada game.

That penalty was not well received.

The issue came up again in the fourth quarter. Again, the ruling went against the Jayhawks. This time, it was Kansas cornerback Cobee Bryant, who was flagged for targeting receiver Isaiah Williams. Like Booker, Bryant was ejected and will be ineligible for the first two quarters of the Nevada game.

Kansas coach Lance Leipold was frustrated specifically with the first targeting call, saying. per Michael Swain, Kansas 24/7, “I’ve never seen a targeting call like that.”

Leipold was not alone in his frustration.

The impact of the fouls and even the ejections on Friday’s game was minimal. Kansas had a safe lead and had little problem holding onto the victory.

But barring an overturn on appeal, the Jayhawks will be without two defenders for their next game. And as frustrating as that is for Kansas and its fans, perhaps more frustrating is that targeting is still not something that the college football world has a firm grasp of.

[Michael Swain, Photo Credit: ESPN2]

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