College football teams would do well to have an attorney or two on the sidelines this season with some of the rule changes coming during the 2013 season. Proving or disproving intent could become a major focus in a hurry.
In an earlier post, we discussed the most controversial rule change, the one that leads to an automatic ejection from the game if a player delivers a blow above the shoulders of a defenseless player, in addition to a 15-yeard penalty. The ejection penalty is eligible for video review while the yardage penalty is not. Built-in controversy, this rule, inevitably creating new conflicts and possible turmoil on the sidelines.
Debating whether a hit was intentional or not will create even more time-consuming delays, adding more video replays and, inevitably, more TV commercial breaks which have already adversely affected the ebb and flow of the game. Be prepared for more of those exhausting waits between plays and count on longer games. The goal to improve player safety has obviously taken precedence over efforts to speed things up.
Other new rules:
- Blocking below the waist is now legal if done from the front side of the defender anywhere on the field, while blocks below the waist delivered from the side or back are fouls, simplifying rule changes from the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
- In the final minute of each half, if the clock is stopped solely for an injured player, 10 seconds will be run off the game clock before the ball is put in play to cut down on teams faking injuries to stop the clock.
- Establishing three seconds as the minimum time required to be on the game clock to spike the ball to stop the clock. If one or two seconds remain on the game clock, the offense can only run one play.
- Two players at the same position on the same team may not wear the same uniform number (example, two quarterbacks on the same team cannot wear #12).
- Players that change numbers during a game must report to the referee, who will announce it via wireless microphone.
- Instant replay will be permitted to adjust the game clock at the end of each quarter. Previously, instant replay could only adjust the game clock at the end of each half.
- Permitting the Big 12 Conference to experiment with an eighth official during conference games, positioned in the offensive backfield opposite the Referee (similar to the positioning of the umpire in the NFL) to assist in detecting infractions (such as holding, chop blocks, blindside hits on the quarterback, etc.) on the offensive line.
The NCAA Legislative Council also approved a new rule that allows any FBS team with a 6–6 record entering a conference championship game to be bowl-eligible regardless of the result of the title game.