By Greg Johnson
College football players caught taunting their opponents will pay a stiffer price this season. With the 2011 college football slate set to kick off in the coming days, a new rule is in place with penalties that could cost teams points.
This is the first year that unsportsmanlike conduct penalties will be treated as either live-ball or dead-ball fouls. The rule change was recommended by the NCAA Football Rules Committee in February 2010 and approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel last year.
Under the new rule, if a player makes a taunting gesture to an opponent on the way to scoring a touchdown, for example, the flag would nullify the score and penalize the offending team 15 yards from the spot of the foul. So if the gesture occurs at the 10-yard line, the offense would retain possession of the ball with the snap occurring at the 25-yard line.
Penalties for dead-ball misconduct fouls (for example, unsportsmanlike behavior after the player crosses the goal line) would continue to be assessed on the ensuing kickoff or the extra point/two-point conversion attempt.
Previously, all fouls of this kind were treated as dead-ball fouls.
Another new rule that will be enforced this year is a 10-second rundown of the game clock if a team commits a foul that stops the clock in the final minute of both halves.
The opponent has three options in these instances:
Other rules changes that will take place this fall may not be as noticeable to fans.
New blocking-below-the-waist standards will enhance player safety by eliminating unsuspecting players from absorbing low hits. In 2011, blocking below the waist will be illegal except on scrimmage plays in the following instances:
Players on the line of scrimmage within seven yards of the center are still allowed to block below the waist anywhere on the field.
Previously, officials had to determine where a player started at the snap or, in the case of wide receivers; how far down the field the receiver was to determine whether the block below the waist was legal.
Another rule that should aid player safety will penalize instances in which three defensive players line up shoulder-to-shoulder and move forward on place kicks. Coaches on the NCAA Football Rules Committee cited examples of one offensive lineman being overpowered by three defensive players in an attempt to penetrate the line of scrimmage to block a kick. This puts the offensive lineman at risk for an injury.
This season will mark the first time video monitors are allowed in the coaches booth for the purpose of determining whether a team should request an instant-replay challenge.
Only a live broadcast of the game will be allowed (that is, no editing/rewinding capabilities). If monitors are installed, the home team must provide the same equipment in both coaching booths.