Not that any of us have the full NCAA rule book fully memorized, but there have been several changes made to that book to protect players and increase safety for the 2014 season.
Here is a brief rundown in fan terms:
- A 15-yard penalty will no longer be enforced if replay overturns a player disqualification for a targeting hit. Targeting is using the crown of the helmet to the head or neck of a defenseless opponent.
- The quarterback will be protected more when in his passing motion. Defensive players can no longer make forcible contact at the knee or below when in passing posture. The defense can still make a legitimate wrap-up tackle in which contact is at or below the knee.
- In games with no instant replay during the game, a halftime video review is still a referee option and an ejected player could still become eligible to return for the second half.
- Player numerals must contrast the jersey. Teams will be asked to change and a timeout will be charged if jerseys do not comply. The timeout can again be charged after each quarter, meaning four of a team’s six timeouts would be used for the illegal numerals. The Sun Belt requests the home team to wear colored jerseys and the visitor white jerseys. The numerals should contrast and be 8 inches high in the front and 10 inches in the back.
- A few more replay reviews will be included. For example, an intentional grounding penalty that may result in a safety can be reviewed. A catch or recovery of a loose ball in the field of play or end zone is reviewable.
- The Sun Belt will have no limit to replays a home team may show, except during the actual replay stoppage and review time by the officials. Sun Belt teams may now travel up to 70 players for league games.
Officiating points of emphasis have added two more areas for 2014:
- Team personnel, specifically head coaches and coordinators, must stay behind the six-foot white border around the field. Many times the coaches have been wandering onto the field calling plays for the no-huddle offense or for defensive changes. Now, it will be penalized.
- Player behavior will be more closely monitored to eliminate self-promotion, taunting an opponent, or vulgar acts or movements like a throat slash. Spontaneous enthusiasm and positive celebrations are still permitted when done in the right way.
Another change brewing is with the officiating crew themselves. Since the late 1980s, a referee crew has had seven members. This year, some conferences are experimenting with eight officials to help more with the spread offenses and speed of the game.