Just when you thought the NCAA couldn’t go more crazy, it did. Thursday afternoon the NCAA Rules Oversight Panel approved three rule changes — two for 2010 and one for 2011 — that in some cases could potentially change the outcome of games based on a completely subjective decision by a referee.
Beginning in 2010, players won’t be allowed to have messages on their eye black or use the wedge blocking technique for kickoff returns. That’s all well and good. If you don’t want Terrell Pryor to have “I love Mike Vick” all over his face on national TV, fine. The wedge blocking rule actually improves safety for the players crazy enough to be “wedge busters” on kickoff teams, so that’s a positive.
It’s the 2011 changes that have everyone up in arms. Beginning in 2011, taunting penalties will be assessed from the spot of the foul. Better hope your favorite player doesn’t celebrate on the way into the end zone or you could have a first and 10 from the six.
Eye black with messages and wedge blocks will be banned from college football this fall, and taunting in the field of play will start costing teams points in 2011.
On Thursday, the NCAA’s Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved the three rules changes.
One year after the NFL banned wedge blocking on kickoffs because of safety concerns, the NCAA followed the lead. The new rule says that when the team receiving a kickoff has more than two players standing within two yards of one another, shoulder to shoulder, it will be assessed a 15-yard penalty — even if there is no contact between the teams.
The reason: NCAA studies have shown that 20 percent of all injuries occurring on kickoffs result in concussions.
Here’s the taunting explanation from the same article.
But it’s the taunting rule that will create the biggest buzz.
Currently, players who are penalized for taunting on their way to the end zone draw a 15-yard penalty on the extra point attempt, 2-point conversion attempt or the ensuing kickoff.
Beginning in 2011, live-ball penalties will be assessed from the spot of the foul and eliminate the score. Examples include players finishing touchdown runs by high-stepping into the end zone or pointing the ball toward an opponent.
I’m all for cleaning up the game and making sportsmanship a priority, but I don’t get how giving this much subjective power to officials is a good thing. Most of the time they can’t even get holding penalties right. Not to mention that in most cases those 50+ year-old officials will be following a play and making those calls out of breath and 20 yards away.
It just doesn’t seem feasible to expect these guys to make these types of calls. If a player tackles someone and gets in their face after a play, it’s taunting. If a defensive lineman dances around like a fool after getting a sack, it’s taunting. But how the NCAA expects officials to judge taunting in this sense is beyond me?
I can’t wait for the first time a touchdown is taken off the board. Joe Ovies had some interesting things to say about this rule this morning at WRAL.com.
Remember that scene in the movie “Scanners” where that dude’s head blew up? Yeah, that’s a perfect illustration of what will happen to the collective noggin of college football the first time 6 points are taken off the board thanks to the NCAA’s new anti-taunting policy.
Understand I have no issue with trying to rid the game of crude mannerisms such as the throat-slash or overboard actions like getting up in the facemask of a fallen opponent. My problems are with the severity of punishment and the added opportunity for officials to screw something up.
And everyone knows the officials will screw this one up. Well, everyone except the NCAA.