The NCAA says the number of enforced targeting penalties in the Football Bowl Subdivision this season was the same as in 2017, ending four straight years of increased calls.
NCAA national coordinator of officials Rogers Redding reported 179 enforced calls in 817 games, compared with 179 in 816 games last season.
The final 2017 report originally listed 188 enforced calls, but Redding said the numbers are sometimes adjusted after an offseason review. The NCAA compiles its numbers through reports submitted each week by conferences.
Big Ten and Mid-American Conference coordinator of football officials Bill Carollo said he was pleased to see the targeting penalties level off, and the hope is the numbers will come down in 2019.
"Coaches have done a good job at teaching proper hitting (both blocking and tackling) techniques and officials have improved in calling targeting plays as well as reviewing the plays," Carollo wrote in a text to The Associated Press. "It's still our No. 1 concern and our one area we need to improve."
Redding noted the number of calls was alarming early in the season. In the first two weeks, there were 55 enforced penalties in 164 games compared with 36 through 162 games in 2017.
"As the season progressed, the numbers settled down, so that serendipitously the two seasons ended the same," Redding said. "This means that as the season progressed the number of [targeting] fouls tracked below last year, with this year's numbers trending generally down."
Targeting penalties increased in the Football Championship Subdivision. There were 115 enforced calls in 620 games (0.18 average) compared with 92 in 626 games (0.14) in 2017.