College Football Rule Changes 2013: Breaking Down Most Important New Rules
College football is back in all its glory and will look quite different this season thanks to some major and subtle changes to the rules as imposed by the NCAA.
Some of the new rules are to promote player safety. Others clean up minor issues such as the removal of helmets and quelling the ridiculous jersey colors to make life easier for officiating crews.
Others were simply quietly passed to little fanfare but could have huge implications on close games nearing conclusion.
Below are rule changes that fans need to know and come to terms with as the season begins. It matters little if the rules are liked—they're set in stone.
All info courtesy of NCAA announcement.
Safety is the name of the game for the NCAA as concussions and their long-term impact have been under the microscope in the world of football in recent years.
The rule change for targeting defenseless players is actually split into two sections, but we'll summarize here.
Targeting and initiating contact with the crown of the helmet, or striking another player in the crown or neck area of a defenseless opponent with the helmet, forearm, elbow or shoulder has always been penalized.
Do you like the new targeting rules?
Now being flagged for the penalty results in an immediate ejection and the 15-yard penalty. The ejection itself can be overruled via instant replay. If the ejection is overturned, the yardage lost courtesy of the flag will still be enforced.
What's interesting is the timing of the penalty matters. The new rule states that if a player is ejected for the foul in the second half or overtime of a contest, he will also be suspended from the first half of his team's next game.
While this may seem like a drastic change, coaches are already adapting. TCU head coach Gary Patterson told David Ubben of Fox Sports he's been teaching form the proper way for a long time:
Gary Patterson on adjusting to the new targeting rule: "It was easy. We tackle legs. We've been tackling legs for 10 years here."— David Ubben (@davidubben) August 27, 2013
The NCAA is serious about player safety. While the new rule will not be popular, since an ejection will be left up to the judgment of the officials, it's the best move for the players on the field.
In the past the removal of a helmet meant the player had to sit out for one play.
If a player loses his helmet he can remain on the field as long as his team takes a charged timeout. This is especially important late in games because now a coaching staff will have to implement even further timeout strategy should a star player lose his helmet.
As in the past, a helmet removed forcibly via penalty does not require the player to leave the game.
It's an interesting decision by the NCAA that gives more control to the coaching staff and adds another wrinkle of strategy to the game.
Limited Time to Spike Ball
A change to the rule regarding spiking the football was perhaps one of the quieter announcements in the bevvy of new rules, but could end up having the largest impact on games as a whole.
Previously teams were allowed to run up and spike the ball at any point to stop the clock. This type of strategy allowed teams to halt the clock with one second left and bring out the field goal unit or run a play.
Per the new rule, teams are not allowed to spike the ball unless three or more seconds remain on the clock after the referee's signal. Bryan Fischer of the Pac 12 Network hinted at how big the change could be:
Subtle but big NCAA rules proposal: 3 seconds minimum on the game clock in order to spike the ball to stop the clock.— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) February 13, 2013
Do you like the new spike rule?
If a team has one or two seconds left on the clock, it is barred from using a spike.
So say a team is driving down the field and lines up to spike the football to kick the potential game-winning field goal. If 2.9 or lower shows on the game clock when this occurs, the game is over.
That's a big change and one coaching staffs have certainly spent countless hours mulling over. The rule will be in the spotlight on more than a few occasions this season.
Follow B/R's Chris Roling on Twitter for more news and analysis @Chris_Roling
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