NCAA Rules Committee proposes changes to targeting rule and defensive substitutions

The NCAA Football Rules Committee met this week in Indianapolis and ultimately proposed two rule changes for the 2014 season and beyond.

First, the committee proposed a change to the rules regarding targeting penalties – a big source of contention among fans last season.

Last year, any player who was called for targeting would be ejected and his team would be assessed a 15-yard penalty. Every call deemed targeting was looked at further via instant replay. If determined that the call was not targeting as initially called, the ejection was overturned but the penalty yardage was still enforced.

Moving forward, the committee suggested that if an instant replay official decides that a disqualification should not have been enforced, the 15-yard penalty also should not be enforced. If another personal foul penalty was called in addition to the targeting, like a roughing the passer call, the penalty would still be enforced but the player would not be ejected.

“Overall, the targeting rule was successful and has had the intended impact of making play safer,” said Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, who is also the chair of the committee. “This alteration keeps the intent of the rule but allows replay to correct all of the consequences from a rare missed call.”

Additionally, the committee recommended a change in defensive substitution that allows defenses “to substitute within the first 10 seconds of the 40-second play clock, with the exception of the final two minutes of each half, starting with the 2014 season.”

If approved, this rule would not allow offenses to snap the ball until the play clock reaches 29 seconds. If the offense snaps the ball prior to the 29-second mark, a five-yard delay of game penalty would be issued.

Many collegiate offenses utilize no-huddle and fast tempo offenses, but the committee does not think this rule would impact the pace of these offenses.

The committee believes that 10 seconds provides sufficient time for defensive player substitutions without inhibiting the ability of an offense to play at a fast pace. Research indicated that teams with fast-paced, no-huddle offenses rarely snap the ball with 30 seconds or more on the play clock.

Under the current set of rules, defensive players have no guaranteed ability to execute substitutions unless the offense does so first

“This rules change is being made to enhance student-athlete safety by guaranteeing a small window for both teams to substitute,” Calhoun said. “As the average number of plays per game has increased, this issue has been discussed with greater frequency by the committee in recent years and we felt like it was time to act in the interests of protecting our student-athletes.”

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