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New NCAA Football Rules: What Exactly is Being Proposed?

Otto Kitsinger III / Getty Images

It’s the off-season for NCAA football – you know, that minute of time between National Signing Day and Spring Training – whereby the NCAA rules committee comes together for their annual meeting of the minds to determine if any changes to the existing rules should be made. With all of the media reports concerning player safety in mind, the committee has released 10 proposed changes for the 2013-14 season:

1. Targeting 

The biggest, and by far the most controversial proposed NCAA football rule change, concerns the rule about targeting of a player above the shoulders. The wording of the NCAA Targeting rule essentially does not change, but instead of the officials assessing a 15-yard penalty, the zebras would penalize the offending team a 15-yard penalty plus ejecting the guilty player for four consecutive quarters of play (the remaining portion of the current game as well as additional tack-on time during the next game of the season.

2. Blocking below the waist

To simplify the NCAA football rules, the new proposal will allow any block below the waist that occurs in front of a defender, but all other blocks below the waist would be considered a foul.

3. Clock runoff 

Since the advent of the no-huddle offense, teams have feigned injury in an effort to give teams more time to regroup before the next snap. To eliminate this practice the committee proposed a new NCAA football rule to charge 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.”

4. Spiking the football

In another controversial move, the committee suggested that an offense be prohibited from spiking the ball in an effort to stop the clock when there is three or fewer seconds left on the clock. This prevents late game field goal kicker heroics, putting the success or failure all on the quarterback’s ability to throw a TD instead.

5. Number changes 

Under the proposed NCAA rule change, teams would now report to the officials when a player switches jersey numbers during the course of a game. The official would then publicly announce the change, possibly preventing deception to the opponant.

6. Same number at same position

Not very dissimilar to rule five, the committee proposes that no two players who play the same position may have the same jersey number. This, too, would prevent deception.

7. The Boise State rule

Boise State, as you may well know, has an all-blue artificial playing surface. The team typically wears jerseys that match that color blue. Opponents of the Broncos have complained that the color choice blends the players with the field, essentially camouflaging them and giving them an unfair advantage. The proposed new NCAA football rule would force all “teams to have either their jersey or pants contrast in color to the playing field.”

8. Electronic communication

After a successful test year in the SEC, the NCAA proposal would allow refs to communicate remotely via electronic devices. Yep, texting zebras.

9. Eighth official

This new NCAA rule applies to the Big 12 only and would allow for the use of an eighth official that would line up alongside the referee in the backfield during conference games.

10. More instant replay

No longer will the officials only be able to use the instant replay system to adjust the clock at the end of each half, but now that action can be conducted at the end of each quarter.

These proposed changes will now be considered by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which will convene March 6, 2013. The Panel will evaluate each proposal and decide to accept or decline the recommendations.

However, if history is any indicator, the proposals will be accepted without reservations by the NCAA.

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