ncaa-d1 flag | March 6, 2015

PROP tables proposed ineligible downfield rule

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel has tabled a proposed football rule that would have adjusted the ineligible receiver downfield rule from 3 yards to 1 yard on Thursday.

Panel members, who met on a teleconference Thursday, felt more discussion about the rule should take place within the college football community before a final decision is made. Additionally, the panel was concerned about the lack of participation in the rules process by head coaches, both in the survey process and comment period. Specifically, while 57 percent of Football Bowl Subdivision head coaches supported this proposed change in the initial survey, only 65 FBS head coaches participated in the survey. Also, while 54 percent of FBS head coaches were supportive of the rule change in the comment period, only 46 FBS head coaches offered comments.

The proposal from the NCAA Football Rules Committee would have allowed ineligible receivers not engaged with an opponent to advance only 1 yard past the line of scrimmage at the time a pass is released. It is the same rule used in the NFL.

Additionally, ineligible receivers (usually offensive linemen) could have legally engaged with defenders within 1 yard of the line of scrimmage and stayed in contact with opponents up to 3 yards on passing plays.

The NCAA Football Rules Committee, which passed the proposed rule in February, believed the change would encourage more consistent officiating of those plays.

Now that the proposal is tabled, the current rule of 3 yards will stay in effect for the 2015 season. However, the current rule will be a point of emphasis for coaches and officials during the 2015 season.

Rules changes approved for the 2015 season by the panel include:

• An eight-person officiating system will be allowed if a conference or school chooses. A center judge was used experimentally in several conferences during the past two seasons. The benefits of having the extra official include getting the ball spotted more efficiently and detecting holding and hands-to-the-face penalties.
• A 15-yard unsportsmanlike foul will be called on players who push or pull opponents off piles -- for example, after fumbles.
• If a helmet comes off a defensive player in the final minute of a half, 10 seconds will be run off the game clock, and the play clock will be set at 40 seconds. Previously, the play clock was set to 25 seconds.
• Officials will return to giving teams an initial sideline warning when their personnel move out of the designated team bench area.
• Officials will treat illegal equipment issues -- such as jerseys tucked under the shoulder pads or exposed back pads -- by making the player leave the field for at least one play. The equipment must be corrected for the player to return to the game. The player may remain in the game if his team takes a timeout to correct the equipment issue.
• Instant replay reviews will be allowed to see if a kicking team player blocked the receiving team before the ball traveled 10 yards on onside-kick plays.
• Teams must be provided at least 22 minutes prior to kickoff for pregame warm-ups. Teams may mutually agree to shorten this time period.
• If the play clock runs to 25 seconds before the ball is ready for play, officials will reset the clock to 40 seconds. Previously, the play clock was reset when it reached 20 seconds.
• Based on research findings of the National Football League, non-standard/overbuilt facemasks will be prohibited.

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