College Football Rule Changes New To 2013
Savvy NCAA football fans are well aware of the ins and outs governing every single play, but even the most hard-core can have a difficult time keeping up with the various off-season rule changes before they actually see them implemented in regular season play. We have reviewed every adjustment and modification to the college football rulebook and boiled the list down to a short discussion featuring the most important.
Many off-season rule changes were designed to minimize injuries, especially those that result from a hit to an essentially defenseless player. A handful of acts that occur on the football field have been defined as putting a player in a “defenseless” situation. Unloading on a kicker just after they kick a ball, hitting a kick returner just after they catch a ball, smacking a ballcarrier who has fallen to the ground or hammering one who is clearly out of the field of play will not only be noted with a 15-yard penalty, it will also result in an ejection of the offender.
One distinctly gray area in the collection of situations defining defenseless players is “A receiver whose focus is on catching a pass.” How this ends up being legislated will go a long way toward determining the course of the regular season for many defense-oriented schools. 15-yard penalties and automatic first downs are damaging enough, but the immediate removal of a player who could certainly be an instrumental piece of any school’s stop unit is such a powerful deterrent that it could easily lead to members of the secondary approaching the game entirely differently.
Other rules seem to be aimed at bringing college football up to speed with the professional ranks. Referees will now be allowed to institute an automatic 10 second runoff when the clock stops within the final minute of each half as a result of an injured player. The clock obviously stops in the immediate wake of any first down, but quarterbacks will no longer be given the option to spike the ball to stop the clock if less than four seconds remain on it. This is an interesting new limitation that will likely come into play at some point near the middle of the season in a very important, nationally-televised game.
A handful of cosmetic rules aimed at sorting out jersey numbers are also going into effect at the beginning of the season. Players on the same team simply cannot wear the same number, a practice that had gotten a little out of hand under Head Coach Lane Kiffin at the University of Southern California and on a few other campuses in recent years. Given that each player is presented with 100 different options from 0 through 99, the NCAA decided it was high time to demand that every team gives every player a unique uniform number. Additionally, the school will be penalized substantially if their jersey numbers are too close of a match in color tone with the jersey itself. This rule is seen as a necessary and logical step toward allowing teams to camouflage information that could be important to defensive coaches and players on the defensive unit.
Interestingly, the NCAA Rules Committee did review a proposed rule change that they ultimately rejected. It involved prohibiting teams from wearing the same color jerseys or as close to the same color as they could possibly get to the color of their playing field. The rule is obviously aimed at eliminating the perceived advantage that the Boise State Broncos have on their home field blue turf, but implementing it would have stepped a bit too far into the realm of jurisdiction which comes to teams that happen to wear shades of green that resemble natural grass.