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PROP 2011: New NCAA Football Rules, Same Institutional Stupidity

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There is perhaps no more entertaining sport that likes making a bigger disaster of its rulebook than college football. (See: The hate clock rules of 2006, overturned after outrage among fans, coaches and anyone else with even a passing interest in the game.)

So when the appropriately-named (and by that we mean vaguely North Korean-sounding) Playing Rules Oversight Panel came out with its ruling on changing the sport's rules for the 2011 season, it was no surprise that they made decisions that seemed puzzling, to say the least.

The rules for when a player can and can't block below the waist seem to have been written by a lawyer especially skilled at making a jigsaw puzzle of the English language. Which brings us to the rule written for the benefit of a lawyer, one Derek Dooley, who seemed to always find himself on the wrong side of the other team's penalty. You might recall his losses to LSU and North Carolina last year, both of which were decided when the other team committed a penalty that extended the game.

So the NCAA is now giving teams the opportunity of a ten-second runoff for penalties that stop the clock in the final minute of either half. We can disagree on the merits of allowing the NCAA to bend the space-time continuum -- nothing they've done so far has suggested this would not result in the end of the universe -- but of course, the Association would never be content with stopping there.

The opponent has three options in these instances:

  • Take the yardage penalty and the 10-second rundown.
  • Take the yardage penalty without the 10-second rundown.
  • Decline both the 10-second rundown and the penalty yardage.

There is also a matter of not allowing three defensive players to target one offensive lineman on place kicks; why this is apparently still allowed on other plays is still unclear. And the panel feels compelled to remind you of one of its greatest hits.

This will be the first year of the rule change regarding unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, which will be treated as either live-ball or dead-ball fouls. Previously, all fouls of this kind were treated as dead-ball fouls.

Remember the outcry over A.J. Green's "unsportsmanlike conduct" penalty in 2009? The one that even the SEC said afterward was a bad call? Yes, officials would now be allowed to take points off the board for the same inexplicable reasons.

Now, don't we all feel better about the rampant pay-for-play investigations and bowl influencing-buying schemes?