College Football Rules Changes for 2016
As every new season approaches in college football, you can expect some tweaks in the rules of the game.
Over the past several years, most of the rules changes are safety related. This year, for the most part, is no different. How you block, targeting, further use of replay and unsportsmanlike conduct are all addressed for 2016.
As the season draws closer for the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns, LSU and the rest of college football, here's an overview of what's new:
BLOCKING BELOW THE WAIST AND LOW HITS ON THE QUARTERBACK: Those players outside the tackle box at the snap (WR, TE) or players who leave the tackle box right after the snap can only block below the waist if initial contact is at the opponent's front.
The low hit rule is a clarification: Players may not make forcible contact below the quarterback's waist, even if it's a wrapup tackle. The word forcible is key here.
TARGETING: Instant replay has been used to verify if contact is with the crown of the helmet or if the contact is at the shoulder area or above. Replay is expanded this year to include all elements of the ruling, including calling targeting from the booth if it is felt the officials missed an egregious call on field.
TRIPPING: It's always been a foul to trip players....except the ball carrier. Not any more. Tripping the ball carrier will also result in a penalty.
CLOCK MANAGEMENT: A new rule closes a loophole during the last two minutes of the half. In the past, a team committing an offensive penalty while leading in the game could take advantage of a rule that started the game clock when the ball was marked ready for play. They were able to run, say, twenty seconds off the clock before actually running a play. Not any more. Now, during the last two minutes, the clock will not start until the snap of the ball.
UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT BY COACHES: A player who commits two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in a game is ejected. But that rule didn't apply to coaches. Now it does. Get two of them, and you're gone.
EXPERIMENTAL RULES: Last year there was an experimental rule that allowed the replay official to stop play if they saw an injury that perhaps the officials did not. Response was positive and now it's a permanent rule.
A new experimental rule this year in some conferences (which ones haven't been made public as of yet,) will allow collaborative replay. In addition to the replay official there will be observers watching the game on television that won't be in the replay booth. The replay official can consult with the observers to get a consensus on the proper call. We'll see if three heads are better than one. If the response is positive, this could become a rule across the board in 2017.
For a complete list of rule changes and their explanations, click here (Thanks to the National Football Foundation.)