College Football Rule Changes for 2021

With all the changes in college sports this year – players monetize their fame, new transfer policies and a mitigating approach to the coronavirus pandemic – perhaps squeezing more tweaks into 2021 seemed impossible.

You better check the rule book of football.

This year is considered a “closed year” for rewriting the rules of the game, and the next wholesale review is scheduled for 2022. Changes may be made for this season under limited circumstances, such as when a change will affect player safety or when a new rule will be affected. It wasn’t about “achieving your goal”.

Here are some of the revisions that will be in effect this season.

If you like the overtime drama of 2-point trials, more is on the way.

Starting in the second overtime period, a touchdown scoring team will be required to attempt a 2-point conversion; There will be no kick option for a single point.

If a game is still tied after two overtime periods, teams will have one-game positions where they can only attempt 2-point conversions from the 3-yard line.

Each overtime round adds an average of 14 snaps to a game, and football officials believe an earlier transition to single-player positions can reduce injuries.

“Of course the concern is they want to get away from five or six overtime games where player safety really becomes an issue,” said Dennis Hennigan, head of Atlantic Coast Conference football officials.

Referees will only restore time if they make a video review with two minutes or less in the second quarter or five minutes or less in the fourth quarter.

The change reflects concerns over the speed and length of games, which are familiar concerns for football leaders. Authorities hope to take seconds, or even minutes, from reviews by limiting when they must be added back. And they argue that the clock is a scarce factor for most of every game, only important in the final minutes of tomorrow.

According to Steve Shaw, the NCAA’s national coordinator of football officials, they had an average of 2.1 stops per game for their review during the 2019 season. Last season though, that figure rose to 2.85 stops per game. Shaw and others pressured authorities to limit replays to two minutes, but said last season, more than 200 reviews took longer.

Shaw said he still urges officials to make quick decisions, considering the possibility of technical issues or close scrutiny of particularly important games.

“We want them to be accurate, but we want them to be very efficient,” he said. “If it’s a catch/no catch, if it’s a win line, if it’s a score/no score, if you’ve been there for almost two minutes and you can’t make a decision, that’s your decision. It’s not clear and unambiguous.”

On Halloween last year, Texas lined up to shoot at the State of Oklahoma. But shooter Cameron Dicker didn’t just look at uprights: He also came across a video board full of yellow lines mimicking goal posts.

This type of move can now result in a 15-yard penalty. An “editorial change” to the rulebook clarified that audio, video and lighting systems operators are covered by the rule of unsportsmanlike conduct and “cannot create any noise or distraction that prevents a team from hearing their signal or interfering with play”.

Shaw, who is also the NCAA’s football rules editor, did not cite the Oklahoma State incident as the reason for the change, calling it a “proactive” move as more schools are investing in flashy screens. game day experience.

“The fear is, you know, the visitors might have a long pass and you could dim the lights a little bit or something like that,” Shaw said. “The creativity of these people surpasses my thoughts on what they can do.”

Almost everyone knows this game: a team is driving, gaining momentum, threatening. Then a defender falls to the ground, time is called and the energy evaporates. Let go of the doubts and teasing that the injured player might not be that injured after all.

The NCAA hasn’t solved the scourge of fake injuries. Indeed, football leaders admit they’ll never be able to figure it out. However, in a sign of his continued anger, the rules committee has created a new procedure to deter game pauses that smell of fraud.

The rules now require schools or conferences to request post-game reviews of problem sections by the national coordinator of football officials. If the coordinator finds a fault, he or she may refer the matter back to the athletic director of the offending school, who will determine any penalties.

“Hopefully the threat of your athletic director to come back and say, ‘I have this problem,’ will stop such activities,” Shaw said. But he acknowledged the shortcomings of the approach – especially that after-game analysis would do nothing to appease an opponent who felt aggrieved by the in-game move – and said officials could continue to look for another solution.

Last year, college football officials expanded team fields to 10-yard, 15-yard lines at each end to encourage social distancing. Now they split the gap and make a permanent change: Team fields will be marked at the 20-yard lines. Coaching boxes will also run between the 20-yard lines.

After the experiment in 2020, coaches urged NCAA officials to keep the team and their coaching space larger than in the past.

“It gave them more room to move up and down the sideline, and it definitely gave the team more room,” Hennigan said.

Shaw said that coaches like to approach the scrimmage line, especially when their teams are in the red zone.

But he also shrewdly said it has another benefit for coaches: “They can go down with the referee a little bit more and go in his ear or his ear.”

NCAA officials already have a list of possible changes to consider next year. Shaw expects a discussion of below-the-waist blocks and a possible simplification of how some penalties, such as defensive holding and offensive pass interference, are applied, for example, with automatic first kicks.

He said the foundations of the rules may not be corrected, but that authorities may try to streamline the consequences of some violations.

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