NCAA emphasizes safety in football rule proposals

Some rule change proposals for the 2019 season were announced Friday by the NCAA football rules committee, with the emphasis on player safety.

Chaired by Stanford football coach David Shaw, the committee proposed a progressive penalty for players who receive a second targeting foul in the same season. In addition to being disqualified from that game, the player would be suspended for the team’s next contest.

The current rule for players who commit targeting results in an ejection from that game and missing the first half of the next game if the penalty occurred in the second half. If the penalty occurred in the first half, there’s no further suspension.

Instant replay officials will examine all aspects of the play and confirm the foul when all elements of targeting are present, according to ncaa.com. If any element of targeting cannot be confirmed, then the replay official will overturn the targeting foul. No other option will be available to let the call on the field stand during a targeting review.

“The targeting rule has been effective in changing player behavior,” NCAA secretary-rules editor Steve Shaw said in a statement. “The progressive penalty is to ensure that a player re-evaluates his technique, with coaching staff support, after he receives a targeting foul. Additionally, the instant replay review changes will ensure that when a player is disqualified, it is clearly warranted.”

After much discussion, the committee went with the additional ejection and firmer replay confirmation standards.

“I don’t see it as a compromise so much as I see it as another way to reach the same goal,” Stanford’s David Shaw said. “We want the discipline to be severe for helmet-to-helmet contact, but we also want it to be right. That was kind of the idea of the two-tiered system, which was, ‘OK, if it’s a violent hit, but it’s not helmet-to-helmet, it’s not technically targeting, then we will take off the ejection.’

“Now what we’re saying with this rule, we’re going to make sure of the ejection to make sure it’s right. The goal is the same.”

Other proposed rule changes include:

If a game reaches a fifth overtime, teams will alternate two-point conversions until a winner is determined instead of taking turns starting at the opponent’s 25-yard line.

The elimination of the two-man wedge blocking formation during kickoff returns and forcible contact on blindside blocks. A blindside block with forcible contact would result in a 15-yard penalty. If the block also includes elements of targeting, it will be a blind-side block with targeting.

The proposals will be reviewed for approval by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel on April 17.