New rules in place for college season

Published 12:09 am Friday, July 4, 2008

Here is a bit more information about the 2008 college football rules changes from the NCAA.

I earlier explained the new rules about face mask and ‘horse collar’ violations.

These will be the new rules most noticed by the casual fan.

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To additionally clarify the new rule about face mask violations, it will no longer be illegal to grasp an opponent’s face mask, or helmet opening , unless the result is to turn, twist, pull the opponent.

There will no longer be an inadvertent face mask penalty. Any face mask violation called will result in a 15-yard penalty.

To attempt to clarify the new play clock rules, the following might help.

Except for Division III schools, all college football fields must now be equipped with visible play clocks capable of being set at either 25 or 40 seconds.

Any time the ball becomes dead (other than for administrative reasons, such as change of possession or injuries) the 40-second clock will be started.

If it becomes necessary for the 40 second clock to stop, such as malfunction, or if the ball is not ready for the offensive team to snap it and the play clock reaches 20 seconds, the referee will give a signal (both hands, palms pointing up, with a pumping motion of both hands) and the 25-second play clock will then start.

The seldom-noticed play clock rule from 2007 which limited the play clock to 15 seconds after a television time out has been rescinded.

Also new in 2008, when a ball carrier, fumble, or backward pass goes out of bounds and causes the game clock to stop, that clock will be started on the ready signal from the referee.

He will not blow his whistle in that instance, as the 40-second play clock will already be running.

There is an exception to that rule for the final two minutes of each half. The clock will no longer start on the referee’s ready signal after a change of team possession, but will return to the old rule of several years ago when the clock started on the snap.

If (heaven forbid) an inadvertent whistle occurs, the game clock will no longer be returned to its position before that play.

Also in 2008, fans might see an occasional delay called before a kick off.

The referee will cause the 25-second clock to start when the umpire hands the ball to the kicker and the other officials are in position.

Many times, the kicking team will then go into a huddle to discuss coverage and that could cost them five yards this season.

I do not anticipate high school rules to follow the NCAA with a 40-second clock any time soon. Only the largest or wealthiest high schools even have on-field 25-second clocks at their stadiums.

The Mississippi High School Activities Association does not allow those to function during play off games, because so few fields have them that not many teams are familiar with the visible 25- second clock.

Most high school officials time the 25-second play clock with a stop watch.

The invention of a simple, small device for hand use would appear to be simple and probably inexpensive enough, but there is not likely to be enough demand for one to lead to production.

One more reminder, the rule forbidding penalties for flagrant personal fouls from carrying over to an extra period has been rescinded.

And, That’s Official.

Al Graning writes a weekly column for The Democrat.