With the start of the college football season coming up, fans should be aware of some new rule changes.
The National Football Foundation and College Football Officiating listed four changes as well as some points of emphasis for officials this season.
• Low Hits on the Passer
To help reduce knee injuries to quarterbacks, the roughing-the-passer rule has been amended.
The defense cannot make forcible contact at the knee or below to an opponent who is in a passing posture.
This doesn’t apply to defenders wrapping up a quarterback for a tackle, but rather shots from a shoulder, helmet or forearm into the lower leg.
• Instant Replay on Targeting Fouls
A player can be assessed a personal foul for “targeting” an opponent — forcible contact to the head and neck area or with the crown of the helmet.
If a player is penalized for targeting, the official an impose a 15-yard penalty and eject the player. If instant replay shows that the player did not make forcible contact to the head or neck, the player can be returned to the game and the 15-yard penalty could be erased.
In the case of multiple fouls — such as a targeting call along with a roughing-the-passer call, the 15-yard penalty would remain for the roughing foul.
• Targeting Fouls Without Replay
In games that aren’t televised, instant replay may not be available. This rule change now allows the referee to review a first-half foul at halftime when video is available at the game site. If this halftime review convinces the referee that the player should not have been ejected, the player may return to the game for the second half. Such a review is optional. There must be a conference policy in place, or pregame agreement between the teams, which specifies if reviews will occur. The decision of the referee is final and may not be appealed.
• Visible Jersey Numerals
Some college jerseys have had numerals that were difficult to read, making it difficult to identify players.
Now there will be a penalty for teams that don’t have uniforms with high contrast between the numbers and the background colors.
The referee will ask the team to change jerseys before the game. If the team does not change, it will be charged with a timeout before each of the four quarters.
Points of Emphasis
This year college football officials are being asked to pay special attention to two areas of the game that are of concern to the rules committee and to other stakeholders: management of team personnel on the sidelines and the sportsmanlike behavior of players.
• Management of the sidelines has emerged as a concern in the past few years, especially with the increase of no-huddle offenses. This style of play means that coaches are much more likely to be on the field right before the snap and then again too quickly after a play is over.
Many coaches and players are still unaware of the fact that the six-foot white border around the sideline is no-man’s land. This restricted area must be clear while the ball is alive as well as during the period after the play is over until the action has ceased. Officials will work with teams to keep this area clear but closer attention will be given to enforcing the sideline rules, which will include imposing appropriate penalties when necessary.
• Player behavior is also becoming an issue as unsportsmanlike conduct is starting to drift back into the game.
Good sportsmanship and respect for the opponent are firmly entrenched characteristics of college football that must be maintained. Spontaneous enthusiasm and positive celebration are encouraged, but when players extend this into self-promotion and taunting of the opponent, officials will be firm about calling unsportsmanlike conduct fouls. Some of these acts, such as the “throat slash” or vulgar behavior, are automatic fouls. Actions of this ilk have no place in our game, and officials are instructed to throw the flag when these occur.