College Football Rule Changes and You: 2009 Edition

Last year we examined college football’s very extensive list of rule changes. This year is less modest (the NCAA hasn’t even published a document listing the rule changes, even though the new rulebook is out), but being the person I am I still find it all very interesting. So let’s take a look at you need to know.

Again, page numbers reflect the PDF.

  • Rule 1-4-3-a (page 34) changes the rules regarding jersey colors, after last year’s much publicized shenanigans with USC and UCLA. The rule regarding white jerseys remains the same (that is, if a team wants to wear white at home they must obtain approval from their opponents prior to the start of the season). However, now if both teams want to wear their colored jersies, they may do so if the teams agree before the game and the home team’s conference certifies the jerseys are sufficiently contrasting. If the home team jersey rule is violated in any way, it is a 15-yard unsportsman-like after the kickoff. (Violations of the white jersey and other equipment rules is still a timeout.)
  • Rule 2-3-6 (page 48) codifies the concept of the “blocking zone”, which is 5 yards on each side of the snapper and 3 yards in front and behind him.
  • Rule 2-24-1, which defined spearing, was eliminated. It is still against the rules to target an opponent with the crown of the helmet, of course.
  • Rule 2-33 (page 65) defines the “three-in-one principle” of penalty enforcement. It just goes into detail about from which spots a penalty is enforced relative to the “official spot”. Basically, you probably already know this.
  • Rule 2-34 defines the “tackle box”, which as you know is 5-yards to each side of the snapper and behind.
  • Rule 3-2-3 (page 70) clarifies that a period is not extended for penalties that result in a loss of down.
  • Rules 3-2-4 (page 71) and 3-3-5 (page 76) say that the play clock should be set to 40 seconds after injury timeouts for the defense.
  • Rule 9-1-2-q (page 122) adds grabbing the chinstrap as a facemask foul.
  • Rule 9-1-4 (page 123) added a provision that once a kicker carries the ball outside the tackle box that he loses his protection under running into/roughing the kicker rules.
  • Rule 9-6 (page 135) was added to clarify that conferences should review video of all flagrant violations that occur during a game, and gives them the power to levy penalties against players who may have committed flagrant fouls that did not get called. Rule 1-9-1 defines “a flagrant personal foul” as “a rule infraction so extreme or deliberate that is places an opponent in danger of a catastrophic injury.”

So not much excitement this year, outside of the jersey color thing. Also worth noting is that this begins the NCAA’s two-year cycle for rules, so rule changes will not be considered again until after the 2010 season.