Alabama Team News

NCAA rules committee may change targeting penalty

College officials

Next week, the NCAA Football Rules Committee will meet in Orlando to discuss potential rule changes for the 2016 season. The biggest topics: possible changes to the targeting and ineligible man downfield rules.

The targeting rule already has been adjusted once since it was introduced in 2013. In the first year, a referee’s flag called for a player to be ejected and a 15-yard penalty; if replay showed the player did not target, he was allowed to remain in the game but the 15-yard penalty still was enforced. After the first year, a change was made: If the hit was not deemed a target, the penalty yardage was wiped away, too.

Now, the committee is expected to discuss whether replay officials will be able to stop the game and enforce a targeting foul that was not called by the on-field officials.

As for the ineligible man downfield penalty, the current rule penalizes a team for having an ineligible receiver more than 3 yards downfield. The proposed change would penalize a team for having these players more than 1 yard downfield. Coaches who are proponents of the spread will be watching this one especially closely and hoping it does not pass muster.

Other items to be discussed:

* An experimental rule was used in the Big Ten and SEC in 2015 that allowed medical spotters in the press box; the committee will consider approving it permanently. The spotters’ job is to alert officials and team personnel when a player might have an injury that is not noticed on the field.

* There will be a discussion of, as the NCAA puts it, “whether a player who is running the football and gives himself up (e.g., slide) should be granted defenseless player protections.”

* Finally, the topic of tablets/computers on the sidelines for coaching purposes will be up for discussion. Tablets currently are allowed in the NFL, but not under current NCAA rules.

(You can follow Dan Mathews on Twitter @DanMathewsATL)


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