During his media days press conference, Big 12 Coordinator of Officials Walt Anderson spoke at length Tuesday about two of football’s most pressing issues – game-length and player safety – and how college football plans to address them.
The length of games was addressed by new rules mandating all half-times be limited to 20 minutes nationwide, no exceptions; having officials wind the clock sooner after out-of-bounds plays; and emphasizing coordination between officials and broadcast teams to eliminate unnecessary delays from media breaks.
The hope is to keep game-times from ballooning to 3.5 hours, a trend many attribute to up-tempo offenses that cause more clock-stoppages.
In terms of player safety, Anderson said defensive players who are not on the line of scrimmage cannot leap over linemen – usually seen during field goals – and horse-collar tackles will now constitute the pulling of a player “anywhere in the nameplate are or the collar.”
Officials were also reminded to penalize players who horse-collar tackle other players that recently forfeited or released the ball, such as quarterbacks and ball-carriers that fumble, according to Anderson.
Officials will also be reviewing plays “in real time and communicating by audio with the replay official,” said Anderson, in an effort to help eliminate confusion.
He wants to make sure replays do not interfere with penalties that may have – or should have – been called, so officials can get every play right.
He also said officials were encouraged to flag coaches for unsportsmanlike conduct, if appropriate.
“There’s certain actions that, if players did those things, there would be no question. There would be penalty flags galore on the field,” said Anderson.
Coaches “can protest really all [they want] to as long as the language is appropriate, but then when [they come] out onto the field,” noted Anderson, “that’s when it becomes a foul.”
On the topic of one of the more discussed player-safety rules, targeting, Walt Anderson said there were no changes from last year to this year.
Fans should expect to see a similarly officiated, albeit quicker game in 2017.