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NCAA's football rules group recommends ejections for targeting, other changes

The NCAA Rules Committee has recommended nine new rules, including regulations on switching jersey numbers, wearing field-matching uniforms and spiking the ball. Assessments of each rule proposal here.

Kevin C. Cox

The NCAA Football Rules Committee will propose a rule on ejecting players who target hits above the shoulders against defenseless players. Ty Halpin of has more on the story.

Under the new rule, any targeting of a player that doesn't come below the shoulders will result in a 15-yard penalty and an automatic ejection. The previous consequence of such a play was simply a 15-yard penalty. The proposal will be reviewed on March 6.

Targeting is currently defined by the NCAA as follows:

  • Rule 9, Article 3: "No player shall target and initiate contact against an opponent with the crown (top) of his helmet. When in question, it is a foul."
  • Rule 9, Article 4: "No player shall target and initiate contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent with the helmet, forearm, elbow or shoulder. When in question, it is a foul."

The NCAA has instituted some controversial rules as of late, including a few designed with the intent to protect players. One particularly thorny issue last season was the helmet rule that forced football players to sit out a play if their helmet popped off their heads. The execution of this rule was a little muddled and clumsy and stalled games, and it's unclear how much of an effect it had on preventing injuries.

Here are the remaining NCAA rules proposed.

  • To add a 10-second runoff with less than a minute remaining in either half when the sole reason for the clock to stop is an injury.
  • To establish three seconds as the minimum amount of time required to be on the game clock in order to spike the ball to stop the clock. If one or two seconds remain on the clock, there is only time for the offense to run one more play.
  • To require a player that changes numbers during the game to report this to the referee, who will announce this.
  • To only allow one player number to be worn by the same team and participate at the same position (e.g., two quarterbacks on the same team are not allowed to have the same number).
  • To require teams to have either their jersey or pants contrast in color to the playing field.
  • To allow the use of electronic communication by the on-field officiating crew after successful experimentation by the Southeastern Conference. This is not a required piece of equipment but will allow officiating crews to use this tool.
  • To allow the Big 12 Conference to experiment with using an eighth official on the field in conference games. This official would be placed in the backfield opposite the referee.
  • To allow instant replay to adjust the clock at the end of each quarter. Previously this provision was only in place for the end of each half.

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