NCAA Announces Targeting Rule Changes, Adjustment to Overtime Structure

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistApril 24, 2019

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 09:  A pylon is seen before the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Clemson Tigers at Raymond James Stadium on January 9, 2017 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel formally approved changes to the rules regarding targeting and overtime, the NCAA announced Wednesday. 

When a player is flagged for a targeting penalty, the referee will now be required to rule whether the call is confirmed or overturned: "If any element of targeting cannot be confirmed, the replay official will overturn the targeting foul."

When it comes to overtime, from the fifth overtime period on, teams will line up for two-point plays—rather than starting each possession at the 25-yard line.

The panel also addressed kickoffs and blind-side blocks. Two-man wedges are banned during kickoffs, and players are prohibited from executing a blind-side block "by attacking an opponent with forcible contact."

The new targeting rule eliminates any ambiguity for the referee viewing the replay. The referee can no longer avoid making a declarative ruling by letting the penalty stand as called on the field.

In addition, players who receive three targeting penalties in one season will receive a one-game suspension.

The Associated Press noted an average of just six games per season have reached a third overtime, so the new overtime format is unlikely to be put into practice very often.

The 2018 season did see a pair of marathon games, though. The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors needed five overtimes to beat the San Jose State Spartans last September, and the LSU Tigers and Texas A&M Aggies played to seven overtimes last November, tying the NCAA record. The Aggies won 74-72.

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