The College Football Officiating group and National Football Foundation released their rule changes for the 2016 season. All the rules added have the intent to increase player safety and make officiating easier.
Blocking Below the Waist
Offensive players who start outside the tackle box (non-offensive lineman) and those who leave the tackle box once the ball is snapped can no longer block below the waist of the player if the engagement is not a head-on collision. Players also cannot block players below the waist in the direction of the original position of the ball until after the ball carrier has clearly crossed the line of scrimmage. This all but eliminates the "chop block", as it is commonly referred to, which should hopefully decrease leg injuries of defeneseless players.
Input From a Medical Observer
In 2015, the committee approved an experimental rule that allows the Instant Replay official to interrupt a game at the request of a medical observer, this was mainly to keep concussed players from trying to remain on the field, for obvious reasons. That rule received very positive reviews over the past year so it will now be permanently implemented.
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Low Hits on the Passer
Defenders may not make forcible contact against the passer at the knee or below, regardless of whether it is a wrap-up tackle or not. This rule has been in the NFL for several years now, and college football is following suit. For NFL fans, this is known as the "Brady Rule", because it was implemented after Tom Brady lost a season to a leg injury after being sacked in the Patriots opening game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Outcome of a Suspended Game
In the event of a suspended game, where the weather does not clear up intime for the teams to resume play, the home tema's conference will determine the game should be A) Resumed at a later date; B) End the game with a determined final score; C) declare a forfeit; D) declare no contest.
Before, if school's were apart of different conferences, it was left to the school's athletic directors. To avoid the inevitable disagreement that may cause, the home team's conference will be the determining authority. If teams are of the same conference, then that conference should have a policy dictating the decision.
Scrimmage Kick Formation
Due to the growth in fake field goals and punts, the rules committee felt that it needed to tighten the requirements of "scrimmage kick formations" (SKF). This rule change is because unlike regular offensive plays, SKFs allowed teams to have less traditional lineman on the field; making them more versatile and athletic.
The new rule mandates an SKF must have one player at least 10 years behind the line of scrimmage (the punter) or potential holder and place kicker at least seven yards deep, another important part of the rule is that "it must be obvious the kick will be attempted." A key change for teams that have lots a gimmick special teams' plays.
Sliding Ball Carrier: Defenseless Player
There are several situations where a player is considered "defenseless" for purposes of the targeting rule. This year the committee is adding ball carriers who have obviously given himself up and "is sliding feet-first". This change is an obvious attempt at decreasing meaningless contact.
Starting the Clock Near the End of a Half
The rules give the referee broad authority in stopping and starting the game clock or the play clock if he feels a team is manipulating one or the other to gain an advantage, especially near the end of halfs.
Under most circumstances, if thh game clock is stopped becuase of a penalty, it starts when the referee signals the officials are "ready-for-play" after penalizing the team. This new rule requires the clock be started at the snap if the team ahead is committing the penalty, to prevent the team from eating up clock time without having to play.
Targeting: An Expanded Role for Instant Replay
Every targeting foul is reviewed by the replay official, by rule. Up to this point, that review has been a verification of whether the hit was "forcible contact with the crown of the helmet or was struck at the head or neck area of a defenseless player". Now, as part of the review, the replay official is directed to examine all elements of any ruling made by the official on the field. This allows the replay official to create a foul if he sees an obvious and egregious targeting action that the on-field officials missed too.
This change should not only increase player safety, but assure that the severe penalty (ejection) is administered if, and only if, appropriate.
Tripping the Ball Carrier
Because of the amount of leg injuries to ball carriers over the past few years; tripping, which is already illegal to do against non-ball carriers, is now completely banned. Any intentional stop of an opponent with a foot or leg will result in a penalty.
TV Access Inside the Limit Lines
Television partners may briefly bring hand-held cameras inside the limit lines during certain dead-ball periods.
Unsportsmanlike Conduct by a Coach
The NCAA has long had a rule wherein a player who commits to "unsportmanlike-conduct fouls" would be immediately disqualified from the remainder of the competition. Now Football Coaches, just like basketball coaches who get two technical fouls, are also subject to the same penalty. If a coach gets to such penalties in one contest he will also be ejected.
Use of Technology for Coaching
The rules committee was recommending that coaches be allowed to use video and computers in the press box and locker rooms. This recommendation recieved blow back from several conferences, so its implementation will be delayed until 2017. This will allows all teams to to prepare for the changes so more fiscally advantaged schools are not the only ones reaping the benefits.
Experimental Rule: Collaboration in Instant Replay
The committee also approved an experimental rule where the replay official that is in the press box will be allowed to confer with observers watching the game on televisions from other sites. This will hopefully allow more calls to be correctly overturned or let-be with the increase of eyes and voices. The rule wil be reviewed at next year's meeting and its future will be determined then.