2013's new college football rules include automatic ejections for hits

Grant Halverson

The Oversight Panel approved a group of new rules this week, most notably making ejection the penalty for targeting a defenseless player above the shoulders.

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved a new rule on Thursday, in which players that target and hit defenseless players above the shoulders will be ejected as a result. The previous penalty for targeting was a 15-yard personal foul penalty, which will still be assessed on top of the ejection going forward. If a player is ejected in the first half of a game, he will miss the remainder of it, but if it occurs in the second half, he will also miss the first half of the following game.

The decision to eject the player will be reviewable, and can be overturned if the replay official can find conclusive evidence that the player did not deserve to be ejected. The conferences can also review the penalty after the game, and add or reduce sanctions or suspensions as needed.

I don't disagree with the change. Hitting players in the head is so unbelievably dangerous, especially when that contact comes from the other player's helmet. If there's any way to really get people's attention that these kinds of hits will not be tolerated, kicking the players out of the game is a good way to start.

That said, considering the general state of dissatisfaction with the state of college football officiating, I can all but guarantee there will be an extremely squirrelly call that overturns a targeting ejection this year. Football isn't alone in the bad officiating department, though, so you take the good with the bad, I suppose.

Some other rules that passed include:

  • A new rule regarding blocking below the waist, which isn't explained particularly well:

In the past two years, the Football Rules Committee has adjusted rules governing these blocks in an attempt to reduce or remove potentially dangerous plays. But the changes have caused more confusion and inconsistency than intended. The new rule focuses on the block itself and will allow these blocks by stationary players in typical line play.

  • A rule providing for a 10-second runoff when the clock stops inside a minute at the end of a half due to an injury.
  • Three seconds is now the minimum cutoff before which the ball can be spiked to stop the clock. If less than three seconds remain on the clock, the offense can only run one more play.
  • Players that change numbers while a game is being played must report to the referee, who will then announce it.
  • Multiple players from the same team can't wear the same number.
  • Electronic communication equipment is now permissible for use by officiating crews, but not required.
  • Instant replay can now be used to adjust the clock at the end of a quarter. The old rule only allowed for adjustment at the end of a half.
  • Numbers on the front and back of jerseys must be a distinctly different, solid color than the rest of the jersey.

Not every rule made it past the Oversight Panel, however. The two notable rules that won't make it into the 2013 rulebook include requiring a team's jersey or pant color to be different from the field (the Boise State rule), and moving the down and distance markers to the other side of the field in the second half of games.

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