By Greg Johnson
A new football rule going into effect this season requires players who target and contact defenseless opponents above the shoulders be ejected. The change increases the on-field penalty for targeting by adding the automatic ejection to the existing 15-yard penalty.
Concussions: The NCAA has taken a leading role in ensuring that athletes are properly protected from and treated for concussions. The injury, even in mild forms, is recognized as a type of traumatic brain injury that requires medical attention and monitoring. Read more
Heat illness: Being active in hot and humid conditions poses special concerns. Heat stress and resulting heat illness is a concern in these conditions. Although deaths from heat illness are rare, exertional heat stroke is the third-leading cause of on-the-field sudden death in athletes. Read more
Sickle Cell Trait: Though it has recently raised alarm in the athletic community, exercising with sickle cell trait is generally safe and with proper awareness and education poses no barriers to outstanding athletic performance. Read more
Reform: The NCAA membership’s efforts to improve college sports and better foster student-athlete success reached another important milestone with the new Division I infractions model. Read more
Head coach accountability: The new structure enhances head coach responsibility/accountability and potential consequences for head coaches who fail to promote compliance within their programs. Read more
What’s the difference between the FBS and FCS? FBS teams play in bowl games and are allowed 85 scholarship players. FCS schools play for an NCAA championship through a 20-team playoff format and are limited to 63 scholarship players. Read more
Football Championship Subdivision postseason: The Division I Football Championship features a 20-team playoff. The top teams in 10 conferences automatically qualify while the other 10 teams are selected at-large by the Division I Football Championship Committee.
The rule, passed by the Football Rules Committee in February and approved by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel in March, addresses the committee’s concern about player safety by taking more measures to remove targeting, or above the shoulder hits on defenseless players, out of the game.
The rule in football means that discipline for players flagged for violations will mirror the penalty for fighting. If the foul occurs in the first half of a game, the player is ejected for the remainder of the game. If the foul occurs in the second half or overtime of a game, the player is ejected for the remainder of the game and the first half of the next contest.
In an effort to address concerns when one of these plays is erroneously called on the field, the ejection portion of the penalty will be reviewable through video replay. The replay official must have conclusive evidence that a player should not be ejected to overturn the call on the field.
Additionally, a postgame conference review remains part of the rule, and conferences retain their ability to add to a sanction.
The action by the committee continues a progression to address dangerous contact through its rules. Targeting, initially approved by the committee as a separate foul in 2008, has been generally successful in terms of its application by officials, which made the committee feel comfortable in adding to the penalty.
Another new rule effective this season regards blocking below the waist.
In the past two years, the Football Rules Committee has adjusted rules governing these blocks in an attempt to reduce or remove potentially dangerous plays. But the changes have caused more confusion and inconsistency than intended. The new rule focuses on the block itself and will allow these blocks by stationary players in typical line play.
Other football rules changes this season for fans to look for include: