The NCAA Football Rules Committee proposed 10 changes for the 2013 season, including one automatically ejecting a player for targeting above the shoulders. / Ron Chenoy, USA TODAY Sports
A rule to automatically eject players for targeting a defenseless player above the head and shoulders is one of 10 potential changes recommended by the NCAA Football Rules Committee, which met this week to discuss ways to increase player safety and "improve the game."
Of the 10 suggestions, the rule impacting targeting â?? like last year's rule moving kickoffs up to the 35-yard line â?? is the one gaining the most attention. Lost in the shuffle are several additional recommendations that could, if passed, produce a heavy change in the way college football is played.
Here's a breakdown of the committee's proposals:
1. Targeting. As noted, the committee unanimously agreed that in addition to the existing 15-yard penalty, a player should be ejected for targeting a defenseless player above the shoulders. As with fighting, a player who is penalized for targeting in the first half would miss the remainder of the game; if he is penalized in the second half, he would miss the rest of that game and the first half of his team's next contest.
To balance out the incidents where a player is unfairly penalized, officiating crews would be allowed to review the hit through video replay. Said the committee, the replay official "must have conclusive evidence that a player should not be ejected to overturn the call on the field."
One example of targeting (South Carolina defensive back D.J. Swearinger against UAB):
2. Blocking below the waist. The NCAA has tried (and largely failed) over the last two years to streamline the ruling on blocks below the waist. To help make a difficult call easier for on-field officials, the committee proposed that any block below the waist that occurs in front of a defender is legal; all other blocks below the waist are not.
3. Clock runoff. The committee proposed a 10-second clock runoff with less than a minute left in either half "when the sole reason for the clock to stop is an injury." This rule would join one already in place forcing a 10-second runoff for an offensive penalty with less than a minute remaining in either half. While this does not prevent teams from feigning injury during normal play â?? like several teams have done to slow down Oregon's offense â?? it does eliminate the chance that an offensive player would choose to go down on the field to give his team more time to regroup during a no-huddle situation.
4. Spiking the football. This might be the strangest proposal: The committee suggested that an offense be prohibited from spiking the ball and stopping the clock with less than three seconds on the clock. Instead, the team could only run an offensive play with one or two seconds remaining.
This won't be popular. What happens when your team, down two points, hits a big gain to inside the opposition's red zone with two seconds left? If you're out of timeouts, the rule would prevent a team from spiking the ball and kicking a field goal. Instead, it would be on the quarterback to throw a game-winning score as time expired.
5. Number changes. In a potential nod to USC, which was accused of such gamesmanship during a win over Colorado, the committee proposed a rule requiring a team to announce to an official when a player switches numbers during the course of a game. The official will then announce the changed number, which would prevent a team from deceiving an opponent.
6. Same number at same position. Similarly to the rule above, the committee proposed a rule preventing teams from having players who play the same position share the same number. For example, having two quarterbacks who share the same number could, yes, deceive the opposition.
7. The Boise State rule. As part of its renewed contract with the Mountain West, Boise State would have been allowed to wear all-blue jerseys on its all-blue field. If passed, the committee's suggestion would nix the Broncos' blue-on-blue combination. The committee proposed a rule that would "require teams to have either their jersey or pants contrast in color to the playing field." While this impacts other FBS teams, Boise State's perceived jersey advantage has long been a bone of contention with its conference brethren. (Of course, the Broncos would be outstanding at home wearing any combination of colors.)
8. Electronic communication. I'll let the rules committee describe this one: "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."
Old-school refereeing: Officials talk like normal human beings, face-to-face and in person. New-school refereeing: Officials can talk remotely, from one end of the field to another. Whatever increases communication between officiating crews is good for football. Let's try this one out with Pac-12 officials, please.
9. Eighth official. If passed, this rule would allow the Big 12 to use an eighth official during conference games. The added official would line up alongside the referee in the backfield. Another set of eyes can't hurt. Let's give the Pac-12 an extra official.
10. More instant replay. In the past, officials could only use instant replay to adjust the clock at the end of each half. If passed, this rule would give officials the right to use replay to measure time at the end of each quarter.
The next step in the process forwards these proposals from the NCAA Football Rules Committee to the Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which meets on Mar. 6. At that date, the panel can decide to accept or decline the committee's recommendations. Typically, but not always, the panel gives the suggestions a rubber stamp.
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