February 17, 2009

A Look at the Proposed NCAA Rules Changes in College Football for 2009

Ok, the NCAA football rules committee came out with a few recommendations the other day. It doesn't appear that any of these changes are as drastic as some of the time clock changes that have been made in recent years, but there could be some impact from all these rules. Let's take a look at all these proposed rules one by one:

1) Live Ball Penalties for Celebrations Before the Goal Line

Of all the changes that have been proposed, I think this one has the biggest potential to end up being wildly controversial to the point where we have a hysterical Mike Lupica screaming until he's blue in the face over a call that affected the outcome of a big game.

My understanding of this proposal is that players would be penalized for celebrating BEFORE they get to the end zone. The "somersault into the end zone" stuff so to speak. And the penalty would be from the SPOT OF THE FOUL and nullify your touchdown. An excessive celebration on the way into the end zone is not only taking away your touchdown, it would take you from the 1 yard line back to the 16 yard line. That's a huge change in the rules. Is there any doubt that one of these penalties will affect the outcome of an important game?? I want to say that Larry Fitzgerald celebrated a little early on his big touchdown at the Super Bowl this year. Would his td have been taken away if it was under these proposed college rules?? If something like that happens in a big college game and the scoring team gets a touchdown taken away and a penalty takin them back to the 15 yard line, there might be rioting in the stands.

While I think this rule could prove to be really controversial at some point, there is an obvious solution for players to avoid this penalty. DON'T DO IT!! It's really not that hard. When you are going in for a breakaway score, run into the freaking end zone. You don't need to do a flip into the end zone or hold the ball out to taunt the guy behind you. Just run in and celebrate with your team. It's not that difficult.

The only thing I ask out of college officials is that they use some discretion!! Cmon zebras, use your head here. You are dealing with emotional college kids and need to take into account the game and the situation. If it's a tie game between OU and Texas and a kid breaks free for a long touchdown run and raises his arms to the crowd as he's crossing in, you better not throw that flag. Use some common sense. It is one thing if a guy from Texas is holding the ball out or diving headfirst during a 56-3 beating over McNeese State. It's another thing if he is about to score the biggest touchdown of his life and shows a little emotion. Taking away a touchdown there would be the ultimate act of an official getting himself too involved in the outcome of a game.

We don't need another Jack Locker redux. That was one of the most disgraceful things I've ever seen in college football. The guy was just excited about a potential game-tying touchdown that he got a little carried away, and the officials took the game out of his hands with that absurd penalty. There was no reason to make that call for excessive celebration. The same thing applies for the Bobby Brown Michigan-ND game in 1999. This pre-end zone penalty would be even more significant since you are nullifying the touchdown and issuing a 15 yard penalty.

College football is a game of emotion. You can't legislate your way out of the fact that kids will be kids at times. There is a time and place to enforce sportsmanship and rein players in, but sometimes you need to just let things go.

Show some discretion with this rule. That's all I ask.

2) Punters are fair game outside the tackle box

This rule is a reaction to the rugby style kicks where the punter moves several steps before kicking the ball on the run. If adopted, opponents could not be called for roughing or running into the kicker if the punter is outside the tackle box.

I love this rule. I actually can't even believe that it is not already in place. If a kicker starts to run, he should be fair game to be hit. At that point, he is no longer a defenseless kicker in need of protection. He has made some athletic steps, and is in position to potentially run. I don't see any reason why a no-contact rule would be in place for a guy like that (other than late hits penalties of course).

Michigan used this gimmick last year under Rich Rod, and they actually got away with a couple fake punts by doing it. I think it will change things if these guys become fair game.

What is the purpose of the rugby style anyway?? Is it to put your kicker in better position to fake it, or is it a punting thing?? Do some guys just prefer punting on the run? Is it easier to angle it to the sideline for your coverage teams if you are running in that direction??

3) Colored jerseys for both teams

I love this proposed rule that allows both teams to wear their colored jerseys if there is a contrast in colors. It would officially sanction the UCLA "blue" vs. USC "cardinal" uniform game that we saw last year. How great it would be to see a Notre Dame-USC "navy vs cardinal" game?? Or an Ohio State-Michigan "scarlet vs. blue"? Or a Florida-Georgia Cocktail Party where both teams wear their home uniforms?? There is some great potential. I love seeing the colored unis on the field.

I'd love to see an ND "blue" vs Texas "burnt orange" or Tennessee "bright orange" game. Unfortunately, we don't schedule those teams any more. I guess I'll have to find out what color UConn wears at home or something. We'll probably do our first color contrast game with Syracuse or somebody like that. Yippee.

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