NFL-like rules looked at by NCAA
Rules considered for timing, grounding and officials placement
The Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS -- College football could be taking a few pages right out of the NFL's rule book.
On Thursday, an NCAA committee proposed adopting a 10-second runoff for clock-stopping penalties in the final minute of each half, changing the intentional grounding rule and experimenting with placing umpires behind the running backs.
A vote on the proposals is expected April 14.
It should sound familiar. Last year, the NFL moved umpires from their traditional position in the middle of the defense to the offensive backfield for safety reasons. The NCAA is now asking schools to experiment with moving the umpire during spring practice and spring games to assess whether it gives them better angles to make calls.
"The officiating community wants the guidance of the rules committee on what their thinking is on this," college football's officiating coordinator, Rogers Redding, said in a statement. "We'll see if this is something that should be done at some point."
Safety is part of the reason for other changes, though.
Players lined up within seven yards of the center on scrimmage plays are still permitted to block below the waist anywhere on the field, but the committee is recommending tighter restrictions on other players.
Receivers or running backs lined up outside the tackle box will be allowed to block below the waist only if they are blocking straight ahead or toward the nearest sideline. If they go inside and block toward the play, it would be a penalty.
"This is a significant change because now the default philosophy is that blocking below the waist is illegal except under these circumstances," Redding said. "Before, the philosophy was that blocking below the waist was legal, but there was an extensive list of times when you couldn't do it."
Another proposal calls for assessing a 5-yard penalty on the defense if three or more players try to overpower one offensive lineman on place kicks.
But there are even bigger changes coming.
This fall, for the first time, unsportsmanlike penalties called on scoring plays before a player crosses the goal line will be assessed from the spot, taking away the touchdown. Televisions also will be added to the coach's boxes to help determine whether the head coach should challenge a call.
Both of those rules were approved last year.
Intentional grounding will not be called if an eligible receiver is in the area of the pass. Previously, it was called if the receiver did not have a reasonable opportunity to catch the ball.
And the 10-second runoff could be used for the first time.
"The idea is to prevent a team from gaining an advantage by committing a foul to stop the clock," Redding said.
All of it has an NFL feel - even the future possibilities.
After rejecting a proposal that would have forced players to sit out at least one play if their helmet is dislodged, the committee decided to gather data on how prevalent the problem is in college football.