With the start of the college football season just days away (the first games of 2013 are Thursday night with more to come on Friday), there are several rule changes for fans to be aware of. The National Football Foundation and College Football Officiating recently released a list of the eight major rule changes for the upcoming season.
Targeting Fouls: Automatic Ejection - Part I
This is the rule change that is not really a rule change - it just comes with a stiffer penalty if it is called. Players will now be automatically ejected from a game for targeting fouls, which include targeting and initiating contact with the crown of the helmet as well as targeting and initiating contact to the head or neck area of a "defenseless" opponent with the helmet, forearm, elbow or shoulder. These infractions have already been on the books for a number of years and have drawn a 15-yard personal foul penalty. However, an automatic ejection for an infraction has been added for the guilty player and the 15-yard penalty is also still included.
Targeting Fouls: Automatic Ejection - Part II
A player also has a high chance to be ejected for a launch, a crouch, leading or lowering. A launch is considered leaving the feet to attack an opponent with an upward and forward "thrust of the body" to make contact with an opponent's head or neck area. A crouch is essentially the same thing. Leading with the helmet, forearm, fist, hand or elbow to "attack" with contact at the head or neck or lowering the head before attacking by initiating contact with the crown of the helmet may also lead to ejection.
Offensive Blocking Below the Waist
This rule defines a zone for the offense that extends seven yards from the center toward each sideline and runs five yards into the defensive secondary and in the other direction back to the offensive team's end line. While in this area, an offensive back who is stationary inside the tackle box and an offensive lineman inside the seven-yard zone may legally block below the waist until the ball has left the zone. Everyone else on offense can only legally block below the waist if the block is clearly in front of the opponent/person being blocked. The "only-from-the-front" rule also goes for everyone on the offensive team once the ball has left this zone. Also, offensive players are not allowed to block below the waist if the block is directed toward the offensive player's own end line.
Expansion of the 10-Second Runoff Rule
If a player becomes injured within the last minute of a half (either the first or second half) and this is the only reason for stopping the clock, the opponent can chose to have 10 seconds subtracted for the game clock. The injured player's team can avoid the runoff of the 10 seconds by using a timeout (if the team still has at least one of its three timeouts remaining).
Player May Remain in the Game Via Timeout After Helmet Comes Off
The rule that requires player to leave the game for one down if his helmet comes off was added last year. It has now been changed to allow the player to remain in the game if his team uses a timeout to adjust the player's helmet. If the team does not have a timeout remaining the player must still leave the field for one down.
Minimum Time to Spike the Ball for Another Play Set at Three Seconds
Teams will now need a minimum of three seconds from the referee's signal in order to spike the ball to allow for another play at the end of a half. If the game clock shows only one or two seconds remaining, they would have only enough time to run a play without first spiking the ball. If a team tries to spike the ball with only one or two seconds showing on the clock, the time will run off and the half would end.
Procedures For Changing Jersey Numbers During a Game
If a team wants to use a player at two different positions during the game, and they need to change jersey numbers, the player must first report to the referee who will in turn announce the change. Additionally, two players who play the same position at different times in the game may not wear the same number during the game. EG - two quarterbacks cannot both wear No. 12.
Player Uniform Numbers Must Contrast With the Color of the Jersey
The color of the jersey number itself must be "clearly and obviously" in contract with the color of the jersey, regardless of any border around the number. EG - teams cannot wear black numbers on black jerseys with a border of a bright color around the number (think Purdue in recent years); it must clearly contrast with the jersey in and of itself.