We think about college football 24/7 so you don't have to.

The Countdown

A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.

Need to Know

Addressing a Few Lingering Rule Questions

I had a handful of questions for the N.C.A.A. regarding the series of rules passed today by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel. Here they are, followed by the N.C.A.A. response:

1. Would a player who continues participating in a play after losing his helmet incur a penalty?

Yes. A helmet-less player who “continues to participate outside of the immediate action” would draw a 15-yard penalty. Similarly, a player who contacts a helmet-less player “outside of immediate action” would draw a 15-yard penalty. Basically, it would not be a penalty if a defender loses his helmet in mid-tackle and continues pulling the ball-carrier to the turf; that would be deemed as part of the “immediate action.”

But to my best interpretation, this play by Matt Reynolds of B.Y.U. would draw a 15-yard flag (using the full screen option will help):

As you see above, Reynolds loses his helmet roughly 10 yards away from his quarterback, Riley Nelson, and doesn’t encounter a Tulsa defender until six seconds after his helmet pops off. While his block does occur in the immediate vicinity of the ball-carrier, Reynolds reengages after losing his helmet far away from the “immediate action.”

2. Was the “Additional Protection to Kick Returner” rule not passed by the Oversight Panel? If you recall from earlier in the month, the slightly nebulous recommendation likely referred to an increased halo around a punt returner. It was not mentioned in the N.C.A.A. release.

The protection rule, while not mentioned, was approved by the Oversight Panel. So I stand corrected; in the post from earlier today, based on the knowledge on hand, I said that the Panel approved all of the rule recommendations sent its way by the N.C.A.A. Football Rules Committee minus this added protection proposal.

So the Rules Committee batted 1.000 — a perfect five for five on rules sent to the Oversight Panel. This rule still remains somewhat open to interpretation, however. The recommendation sent to the Panel did not specify how the rule would protect a returner, leaving us only guessing that it’ll create that larger halo.

3. Coverage units cannot get more than a five-yard head start on kickoffs, but does the same rule apply to kickers?

No. A kicker is allowed to line up behind the 30-yard line, if he so chose. But the N.C.A.A. did say that the kicker must kick the ball — shocking, I know. But this eliminates the little-used onside kick where the kicker rushes towards the ball but pulls up short of the tee while a teammate kicks the ball towards the hands team on the other side of the field.

It’s not that common a fake, but it does happen. Air Force, for example, has this used this fake in the past. And it takes one possible onside kick off the table for the return team, making life a little easier for special teams coaches across the country.

4. If a team takes a timeout after a player loses his helmet, forcing him to the sidelines, would he be eligible to return to the field without missing a play?

No. There will be a similar rule in place to the one that governs player injuries, which states that the injured individual must sit out the following play even if his team calls a timeout. This might lead to a rather interesting scenario:

U.S.C. trails L.S.U., 21-16, in the B.C.S. championship game. The Trojans are inside the L.S.U. 10-yard line. With eight seconds left, Matt Barkley is sacked, losing his helmet in the process. Lane Kiffin calls timeout to stop the clock, but the Trojans’ last shot at a game-winning touchdown must come with Barkley on the bench.


5. Is the N.C.A.A. ever going to do something about women’s bowling uniforms?

Yes. Per the rule passed today by the Oversight Panel, “the bottom half of the player uniform shall have at least a four-inch inseam.” In addition, “at no time should a student-athlete show a bare abdomen or midriff, including during the completion of a shot.” So that’s finally been dealt with.

Tags: , , , , , ,
Home  Home


  1. [...] Per Paul Myerberg, here’s a little wrinkle in the new NCAA kickoff rules that hasn’t gotten much attention: Coverage units cannot get more than a five-yard head start on kickoffs, but does the same rule apply to kickers? [...]

Leave a Comment