What Time Is Kickoff For Ncaa Football Championship Game Safety Is Key in Proposed NCAA Rules Changes

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Safety Is Key in Proposed NCAA Rules Changes

The NCAA is considering five major rule changes that will be implemented for the 2012 college football season. The Game Rules Oversight Committee meets on Tuesday, February 21, to discuss and ultimately determine whether or not the proposed changes will be put into effect.

The NCAA Rules Committee, a 13-member committee made up of coaches and athletic directors representing all divisions, met just a few weeks ago to propose the changes. Contrary to popular belief, the proposed changes were written by coaches and officials, not the NCAA. When the committee discusses any rule change, the proposal is sent to all NCAA members as well as all conference umpires.

Rule changes are introduced on a two-year cycle, with the change taking effect in the second year. This allows the coaching staff to implement the rule in the first year and train their players under the new rule that will be in effect the second year.

Any rule changes related to player safety can bypass the two-year transition period and take effect immediately. All five proposed changes for 2012 concern player safety and, if approved, will become part of the rulebook this season.

Here is a summary of the current proposed rule changes for 2012.

The starting lines and the touchback have been moved

Teams would start at the 35-yard line instead of the 30-yard line. Punt-covering teams must be within five yards of the 35-yard line at the time of the punt. In this way, it is impossible for players with coverage to increase their speed and momentum before the shot. Kicks that are not returned out of the end zone will be spotted at the 25 yard line instead of the 20. The rules committee is trying to encourage the touchback because of a study that shows more injuries occur at the snap than at any other phase of the game.

Losing a helmet during a game

Studies have shown that players would lose their helmet an average of two times per game. In the essence of safety, any loss of a helmet during a game will be treated as an injury. A player who loses his helmet cannot participate in the next game. Also, when a player loses his helmet during a game, he may not continue to participate in that game. For those who think that losing a helmet can stop the clock in key situations, the injury timeout rules already protect against such plays as a means of stopping the clock.

Blocking below the waist

The rules regarding below-the-waist blocking will be clarified to allow all players lined up in the tackle box at the snap (rather than in motion) to block below the waist without restriction. All other players may not block below the waist, however, there are a few exceptions.

Shield blocking on punts

More and more teams are using the “Shield” shot protection where three blockers are placed side by side in front of the player in an attempt to prevent a blocked shot. The defenders responded by skipping the blockers. Studies have shown that many of these defenders would roll over and land on their heads on the field. To protect these players, the new rule will be similar to the one used for spot kicks. Players cannot jump over a blocker, but they can jump straight into the air or between two blockers.

Additional protection for returnees

Kick returners will have additional protection when taking a kick. Returners must complete the catch before the kicking team can make contact. The rule will be subject to official interpretation, but a rule change has been proposed to ensure that a covering player does not have a “free kick” on an unprotected snap or punt return.

It appears that each of these proposed changes will be approved by the Board of Supervisors and implemented for the upcoming season. On safety issues, the NCAA, Rules Committee and Board of Overseers usually agree and approve any proposed changes.

For more information on the rule changes and Board of Supervisors results from the Feb. 21 meeting, visit http://www.ncaa.org.

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