Proposed NCAA Football Rules for 2013 Contradict Player Safety and Fair Play


Jan 06, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; The endzone pylon displaying the Cotton Bowl logo during the game between the Arkansas Razorbacks and the Kansas State Wildcats in the 2012 Cotton Bowl at Cowboys Stadium. Arkansas won 29-16. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The NCAA Rules Committee has proposed several rules changes and/or interpretation modifications, including the automatic ejection of penalties deemed as “targeting above the shoulders”. These proposed changes will be reviewed on March 6th before going into effect if approved.

Of course under the current rules, a player is penalized with a 15 yard infraction on any such play, but no ejection. Here is the verbage in which the current rule holds:

  • Rule 9, Article 3: “No player shall target and initiate contact against an opponent with the crown (top) of his helmet. When in question, it is a foul.”
  • Rule 9, Article 4: “No player shall target and initiate contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent with the helmet, forearm, elbow or shoulder. When in question, it is a foul.”

This is an interesting idea by the committee, trying to expedite the process of getting players to understand the concept of hitting below the shoulders. While I understand the idea, it’s not always cut and dried and you will have to eject at least one player in most games, which makes this a bad rule in my opinion. If you’re going to apply it, I think instant replay MUST be available to this type of play so that an interpretation of “above the shoulders” isn’t mistaken and a kid gets thrown out that shouldn’t.

There were several “targeting” penalties this season that were actually clean, legal hits, but they were flagged based on referee misinterpretation of the contact. I realize they are trying to make the game safer but they have to understand at some point that injuries are simply going to happen. Not every big hit should be penalized because a guy was hurt on the play, it’s simply not fair to defensive players. To put an objective and interpretive ejection rule onto the referees not only puts the players in danger, I also think it puts the referees into a role that will be impossible to succeed at. It also puts defensive players at an unfair disadvantage. 

Here are the other rules with our thoughts immediately following:

  • To add a 10-second runoff with less than a minute remaining in either half when the sole reason for the clock to stop is an injury.

This rule is to prevent faking injuries, but here’s the catch: You say you’re trying to make the game safer, yet you’re going to make injured kids stay on the field to save 10 seconds late in the game? That is some serious bull.

  • To establish three seconds as the minimum amount of time required to be on the game clock in order to spike the ball to stop the clock. If one or two seconds remain on the clock, there is only time for the offense to run one more play.

More bull. It takes maybe a second and a half to hear the whistle, snap the ball and spike it. 3 seconds is a cop-out rule. Once the ball hits the ground, just like at any other time, the clock should stop.

  • To require a player that changes numbers during the game to report this to the referee, who will announce this.

I like this, as it prevents miscommunication.

  • To only allow one player number to be worn by the same team and participate at the same position (e.g., two quarterbacks on the same team are not allowed to have the same number).

This must simply be a clear up in wording. I thought only 2 players could wear the same number and they were to be on separate sides of the ball and never on the field at the same time. 

  • To require teams to have either their jersey or pants contrast in color to the playing field.

I think this is a good rule to keep teams for “blending in” with the field. Boise State and Eastern Washington won’t like this rule.

  • To allow the use of electronic communication by the on-field officiating crew after successful experimentation by the Southeastern Conference. This is not a required piece of equipment but will allow officiating crews to use this tool.

Sure, why not?!

  • To allow the Big 12 Conference to experiment with using an eighth official on the field in conference games. This official would be placed in the backfield opposite the referee.

Just take out the middle guy like the NFL did. It was a success. Why put an extra official on the field? He will only enrage fans more when they “miss” an obvious holding call. 

  • To allow instant replay to adjust the clock at the end of each quarter. Previously this provision was only in place for the end of each half.

Not sure why this wasn’t a quarter thing to begin with. Meh.