LSU linebacker Devin White was ejected for targeting in the second half of the Tigers’ 19-3 win against Mississippi State last week.
Targeting, the NCAA says, is when “a player takes aim at an opponent for purposes of attacking with forcible contact that goes beyond making a legal tackle or a legal block or playing the ball,” and is not just a helmet-to-helmet hit. When a player is called for targeting in the second half of a game, he is immediately ejected and then suspended for the first half of the next game.
Here is the play involving White:
The problem for LSU fans? Their next game is against No. 1 Alabama, the biggest game of the season for the fourth-ranked Tigers. Without White, who already has 76 total tackles so far this season and is perhaps the best player on the Tigers’ defense, LSU will be missing an important piece.
And, naturally, they aren’t taking the news well.
A #FreeDevinWhite billboard
One LSU fan started a GoFundMe page raising money to put up multiple #FreeDevinWhite billboards around Birmingham, Alabama — where the SEC headquarters is located — in an effort to persuade the league to overrule the suspension.
The campaign had nearly hit its initial goal just an hour into its creation. Within 24 hours, two billboards had been put up in Birmingham.
Here's a look at one of the #FreeDevinWhite billboards.
This one is on I-65 North just north of Oxmoor Road. #LSU
— Amie Just (@Amie_Just) October 23, 2018
If there are still leftover funds, the owner isn’t planning to pocket the extra cash. According to the post, the excess funds will be donated to the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine.
AD Joe Alleva contacted SEC, fought suspension
LSU athletic director Joe Alleva has contacted the SEC office to “voice his displeasure” with the call to suspend White, according to The Advocate.
While he can complain to the league all he wants, there is likely little Alleva can do. There is no formal appeals process for the ruling.
The SEC stood by the call, too.
“The QB on the play was defenseless at the time of the contact,” the league said in a statement on Sunday. “By rule, all targeting calls are reviewed. The call was reviewed and confirmed.”
Despite Alleva’s best efforts, it was confirmed late Monday that the suspension will be upheld.
“Discussions with the SEC made clear there is no process for appeal,” LSU official Robert Munson said. “The suspension will stand.”
A cry of collusion between the SEC and Alabama
Longtime political strategist and LSU graduate James Carville wrote in The Advocate on Sunday that the targeting call and suspension against White reveals “collusion” between the SEC and Alabama.
— James Carville (@JamesCarville) October 22, 2018
If there was any doubt, the SEC crew in zebra stripes made it clear Saturday night. The league is in cahoots with the Crimson Tide. Yes, it appears there is collusion.
After the botched targeting call on LSU linebacker Devin White, the SEC is presented with a rare moment to atone for past sins and put to rest its prior affairs. It has an opportunity to take a stand for fairness and democracy.
These moments in history are fleeting.
I have to think back to June 12, 1987, when President Ronald Reagan stood in West Berlin and declared “tear down this wall” to find a similar moment in time of our history. (OK, I realize that LSU football is not as important as people living under tyranny — but it’s close.)
Carville isn’t the only political figure getting in on the call, either. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards took to Twitter shortly after the call to voice his displeasure, too.
Someone is going to have to explain the definition of “targeting” to me. From what I know, that wasn’t it. #GeauxTigers
— John Bel Edwards (@LouisianaGov) October 21, 2018
Carville then called for commissioner Greg Sankey to “rip up this suspension,” so as to not “taint SEC football history with this skid mark of a decision.”
His column didn’t bode well with noted “Paul Finebaum Show” caller and Alabama fan Phyllis from Mulga.
"All Alabama is going to do is meet you in a couple weeks and kick your a**! Do you understand me @JamesCarville? Shut up about my team!"
Phyllis still has it & today the legendary caller may have delivered the call of the season. pic.twitter.com/NyvIodFPdC
— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) October 22, 2018
While fans may not be happy with the ruling, and could argue that the rule has been called inconsistently since it was first introduced, that doesn’t mean there is “collusion” as Carville claims.
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