Category Archives: rules

2022 College Football Conference and Rule Changes

What the title doesn’t have in cleverness I’ve attempted to make up for with directness. Let’s examine what’s going to be moving around this season before stuff gets real crazy the next few years.

Conference Moves

We’ve got team switching leagues and moving up. While the real fireworks start next year, we’ve got some changes for this year. To wit:

  • James Madison will move from the FCS Colonial Athletic Association to the Sun Belt. While they will play a full FBS schedule this season, they will still be ineligible for bowls as they are transitioning.
  • Marshall, Old Dominion, and Southern Mississippi will move from Conference USA to the Sun Belt.
  • Jacksonville State will begin the FCS-to-FBS transition process this season to move from the Atlantic Sun to Conference USA. They will be ineligible for bowls in 2022 and 2023.
  • Sam Houston State will begin the FCS-to-FBS transition process this season to move from the Western Athletic Conference to Conference USA. They will be ineligible for bowls in 2022 and 2023.


Okay, let’s get into the weeds. The main thing is that these are playing rules, so nothing about NIL or anything. I’ll try to explain them the best I can using just text.

Rule 3-3-5-b

Though expanded upon elsewhere in the rulebook, they are apparently trying to discourage faking injuries (to get free timeouts) by making it possible for conference offices to actually discipline schools for doing it.

Rule 4-1-3-r

You can call this one the Kenny Pickett rule, as it specifies that when the ball carrier simulates a feet-first slide, the ball is considered dead at the spot the slide began, even if the ball carrier is never actually down.

Rule 7-3-11

Illegal touching, i.e., when a forward pass is intentionally touched by a player who is ineligible is now a five yard penalty and a loss of down, instead of just five yards.

Rule 9-1-3/4

These changes make clarifications regarding targeting. The first defines the “crown of the helmet” to be the “top segment of the helmet; namely, the circular area defined by a 6-inch radius from the apex (top) of the helmet.” The latter says that a defenseless player includes “an offensive player in a passing posture with focus downfield.”

Later, this change also allows for players ejected for targeting in the second half of a game to be reinstated after a review with the national coordinator of officials determines that the player should not have been disqualified.

Rule 9-1-6

Apparently the rules committee hates option football. Cut blocking is further reigned in with several significant changes. Linemen may only block below the waist in any direction now on the “initial line charge”, otherwise, all blocks below the waist must be “directed from the front” [of the player being blocked]. Stationary backfield players in the tackle box (the area between the tackles behind the line of scrimmage and 1 yard ahead of the neutral zone from there) may only block below the waist “directed from the front”. In both cases, this is only allowed when the ball is in the tackle box. All other offensive players are not allowed to block below the waist (i.e., any players split out wide like receivers).

No defensive players other than those starting within the tackle box within 1 yard of the line of scrimmage are allowed to block below the waist.

Rule 9-2-1-a-1

Makes some clarifications to unsportsmanlike conduct enforcement. If the kicking team commits an unsportsmanlike foul, the other team can choose to enforce the penalty from the previous spot or the subsequent dead ball spot, provided it is not a field goal attempt and the ball crosses the neutral zone.

Defensive unsportsmanlike fouls during pass plays are now enforced from the end of the run (if it crosses the neutral zone), unless the ball is incomplete or intercepted or possession otherwise changes.

Rule 9-3-4 (c-e)

Defensive holding is now an automatic first down, in addition to the existing 10 yard penalty, like in the NFL.

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.