New NCAA Rule changes for Football

July 13, 2010
by Justin

Each week we are going to reveiw any and all new rules proposed or passed this past year. It is our hopes that you will be able to benefit from this knowledge for the upcoming season and beyond. We are going to start with football.

So the first order of business is academic eligibility. There has been a lot of bad press over the years about academics in college football and the “free ride” concept. In attempt to combat the negative connotations the Football Academic Working Group are looking to introduce a new rule which would require football student-athletes to earn nine academic credits in the fall term to be eligible for the entire season following the fall.

The Academic Working group has proposed the new legislation based on new data exposing eligibility problems amongst football student-athletes. The legislation would have those student-athletes who fail to earn the minimum requirement of 9 academic credits to miss four contests the following fall. There is one stipulation which would allow the student-athlete to get two games back by completing a total of 27 credit hours by the end of the following summer session. Now nothing has been passed yet but their intension is to introduce this into the 2010-2011 academic cycle.

Also in the works, in an effort to stay with what seems to be the “safety-first” theme of this year, the NCAA is seeking to eliminate wedge-blocking of three or more players by the receiving team on kickoffs. The Rules Committee is in an off year for rule changes but they are so intent on making this rule change that they recently held a conference call in an attempt to make an immediate change.

By definition, for those unsure, a wedge-block according to the NCAA is a two or more players aligned shoulder to shoulder within two years of each other. If an illegal wedge is formed then the proposed rule change would see a 15-yard penalty applied for the infraction. In addition, the penalty would be marked from the spot of the foul or from the spot of where the kick returner was tackled if it is behind the spot where the illegal wedge was formed.

These new safety driven proposals continues to build momentum as the NCAA Football Rules Committee also reviewed a mandate they imposed last season to have all conferences to review all fouls dangerous in nature and consider suspensions for the infractions. As a result the committee is reviewing these findings are most likely looking to implement more safety first rules in the seasons to come.

As a last bit of news, as most of you probably know by now, the committee implemented a rule for players wearing “eye black”. The rule states that it must be solid black with no words, numbers, logos or other symbols any violators will be punished.  Call it the “Tebow Rule”, as you may, we all know that messages may be harmless at times, but some players don’t always have the best intentions. Often players write curse words or other taunting messages on the eye black which could cause fights on the football field. In an era where the NCAA is trying to promote sportsmanship this falls right in line, as it stand the NFL already has such a rule in place. And this leads me to the next rule, as I like to call it, the “Zero Fun Rule”. The NCAA in an effort to reduce unsportsmanlike conduct, the committee is looking to define unsportsmanlike acts to include, but are not limited to pointing fingers, hands, arms or the ball at opponents, choreographed acts, ball carrier altering stride when approaching the end zone, removal of a player’s helmet on the field, punching one’s chest or crossing one’s arms, bowing at the waist, and going into the stands to interact with spectators. It will be penalized as a live-ball foul beginning in the 2011 season; potentially the flag would nullify a score and penalize the offending team from the spot of the foul. While penalties for dead-ball misconduct fouls (for example, unsportsmanlike behavior after the player crosses the goal line) would continue to be assessed on the ensuing kickoff or the extra point/two point conversion attempt. At this point no rule as been passed but moving forward, look for the committee to implement some version of it.

Lastly, the committee also took the following actions:

  • Removed the reference in the rules book requiring a player’s pants to cover the knees at all times. Also, socks no longer have a length requirement, but must continue to be of the same color and general design.
  • Agreed to suggest changes to the complicated rules regarding blocking below the waist. The committee will discuss the matter further at the 2011 meeting.
  • Recommended that conferences that do not have a pregame warm-up policy use a 10-yard no-player zone between the 45-yard lines beginning 60 minutes before kickoff. This reinforces the Statement on Sportsmanship, which was adopted by the committee for inclusion in the 2009-10 NCAA Football Rules Book. The committee will consider formally adding this to the rules book in 2011.

Here at we believe knowing the rules is just as important as having the proper diet or training in order to achieve success. Hopefully understanding these rules and future rules can help you be a better athlete.

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