A proposed rule change would allow conferences to appeal targeting fouls that were called in the second half of games in order to avoid the carryover penalty of sitting out the first half of the next game, the NCAA Football Rules Committee announced on Friday.
The committee, which began meeting on Wednesday, also proposed a reporting and investigation process to address teams that are awarded an injury timeout when a player fakes an injury. If the Playing Rules Oversight Panel approves the rules changes at its April 20 meeting, the new rules will begin this season.
If a team believes a targeting call was erroneous, its conference would be allowed to submit a request to Steve Shaw, the NCAA’s national coordinator of officials, for review. If it’s obvious the player was incorrectly penalized, the call would be overturned and the player would be cleared for the first half of the next game.
“If the past year is an indicator, it will only be a handful of calls,” Shaw said, “but even if it’s only a handful, if that’s a student-athlete having to sit out a game on a situation where there was an error, we should correct that if we can.”
Every targeting foul already is reviewed by replay, and since there are no “stands,” the officials have to either confirm all aspects of the targeting foul or overturn it. Shaw said the sport is currently averaging one targeting foul every five games.
“This is not every head coach that’s upset their guy got thrown out,” said Stanford coach David Shaw, chair of the NCAA Football Rules Committee. “This is really a process to make sure that we get it right. That’s been our driving force for the last couple of years when it comes to targeting, is really to make sure that we get it right, and we have proper punishments for those that do target, but also mechanisms to make sure we see all indicators of targeting and give ourselves the opportunity to correct a potential error.”
Steve Shaw said the rules committee spent more time talking about players feigning injuries “than any other issue in our game.” Currently, during an injury timeout, the player involved has to sit out for one play.
The group considered several in-game solutions, including lengthening the amount of time the injured player has to miss following the timeout, but couldn’t come up with one that “fit perfectly.” Instead, the proposed rule would give the school or the conference the ability to contact Shaw to facilitate a video review. Any penalties levied would be up to the conference office or school involved.
“I would love to see there be severe penalties towards individuals that coach unethical things in the game,” Stanford’s Shaw said. “And this is unethical, and there have been severe penalties levied on individual coaches in the past. I would love to see that ratcheted up.”
The committee also proposed a rule that would allow blocking only below the waist by linemen and stationary backs inside the tackle box. Steve Shaw said it’s “a great change for player safety.”
“We can see from our injury data that when we’ve made changes and limited blocking below the waist, especially in the open field, we’ve reduced knee and lower body injuries,” Shaw said. “We like that trend, so we are making a pretty significant change this year on blocking below the waist.”