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February 16, 2008

Rule changes could bring improvements

At the College Football Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the college football coverage staff for their opinion about a specific topic from the past week in college football.

Of the new rules proposed this week by the NCAA Football Rules Committee, which one do you like best?
Olin Buchanan, Rivals.com Senior Writer
The very nature of football as a collision sport creates a risk of serious injury that cannot be eliminated by rules. But any rule that can reduce the chance of serious injury is an excellent one, which is why I feel the NCAA Rules Committee's change in the definition of the chop block is by far its best.

Previously, the chop block in which an offensive lineman blocks an already engaged defender below the waist from the side or behind could be considered legal depending on the place on the field where the block was made. Officials had to factor in field location and where and on the defender's body the block occurred before deciding whether it was illegal. There also might have been some confusion among the players making the block.

The confusion has been removed. There is no gray area now. Any block below the waist on an engaged defensive lineman will be a 15-yard penalty, and it doesn't matter where on the field it took place.

LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey sustained an injured knee last season after getting chop-blocked against Auburn. The change should help other defensive linemen avoid similar injuries.

David Fox, Rivals.com Staff Writer
The college football powers-that-be generally whiff when trying to mimic the NFL. Just look at the disastrous game-shortening rules and the redundant coach's challenge rule. Finally, college football got it right when copying the pros. The NFL banned the horse-collar tackle in 2005. Three years later, college football appears it will follow suit in trying to eliminate these dangerous tackles.

It's too late for LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, but at least he knows Auburn's highly publicized chop block against him likely will be penalized in 2008 now that the NCAA appears to be rewriting the cumbersome chop block rules. The new rule outlaws any high-low combination block.

These are rules where everyone could win. For the player's health, they'll cut down on serious injuries. For the TV execs, fewer injury stoppages could shorten the game without altering the play clock.

Mike Huguenin, Rivals.com College Sports Editor
One of last season's best rules changes was kickoffs came from the 30-yard line instead of the 35. The best rules change this season is that receiving teams can choose to take the ball at the 40 after kickoffs go out of bounds.

This makes up for what the NCAA failed to do last season; even with the kickoff changed, the ball still was placed at the 35 when it went out of bounds.

The two rules place even more emphasis on special teams, specifically on the kicker and on the return man. Both have become bigger weapons. If you have a kickoff man who can put the ball in the end zone from the 30, you're in great shape. Conversely, if you have a top-notch return man, you're also in great shape because quite simply most college kickers have trouble reaching the end zone when they kick from the 30.

Nice job, NCAA. (And, man, you can't say that very often, can you?)

Steve Megargee, Rivals.com Staff Writer
College football finds itself in quite a dilemma as it tries to speed up the games to appease TV networks without making sacrifices to the game that would anger fans or coaches.

The time-keeping rules the NCAA instituted two years ago drew a chorus of criticism because it changed the fabric of the college game by hampering a team's ability to make a last-minute comeback. No wonder the rule changes were rescinded after just one season.

These latest time-keeping changes represent a compromise that should speed up the games without making them less entertaining.

Starting the clock when an official marks the ball as "ready for play" after an out-of-bounds play should shave at least a few minutes off the running time of most games.

But the officials also decided that the clock wouldn't start until the snap in those situations during the final two minutes of each half. And that should make sure these latest rule changes don't limit the number of comebacks next season.

Florida NEWS


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