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2013 NCAA Football Rules Changes - Your Opponent Is Ejected Always

The NCAA has announced the rules changes for the 2013 college football season, including one that will result in a player's ejection when it is ruled he has targeted a defenseless player. What is targeting? What is defenseless? DISCUSS!

Kenny Bell

New rules changes are out for the 2013 college football season, and the one that's sure to bring the greatest amount of profanity-laced tirades on twitter and in lounge chairs near you is the targeting and ejection rule, stated as thus:

The Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved a new football rule that requires players who target and contact defenseless players above the shoulders to be ejected, effective for the 2013 season. The change increases the on-field penalty for targeting by adding the automatic ejection to the existing 15-yard penalty.

The key part here, of course, is the "TARGET AND CONTACT DEFENSELESS PLAYERS" bit which makes it sound like big mean, football players are picking on fourth graders who don't even fit into their pads.

Being a big bully will get you more than just ejected because you need to be taught a lesson (a lesson that may or may not include better technique for tackling) and that will include missing more time on the field because that's what happens when you're a meanie and they can't fine you like they do in the NFL because they won't give you an extra cent of the millions you're collectively bringing in to pay their salaries:

The new rule in football means that discipline for those 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.

What this means is that players are guilty until proven innocent, which means all of them, always, because you and I will want everyone on the opponent's team ejected always while our opponents argue that all of their players are forever defenseless.

Note that the rule includes the phrase "defenseless player". While the NCAA Football rules do not specifically define what a "defenseless player" is, they do give examples in the 2011 and 2012 NCAA Football Rules and Interpretations Book:

  • a. player in the act of or just after throwing a pass.
  • b. A receiver whose focus is on catching a pass.
  • c. A kicker in the act of or just after kicking a ball.
  • d. A kick returner whose focus is on catching or recovering a kick in the air.
  • e. A player on the ground at the end of a play.
  • f. A player obviously out of the play.

Note that the Wisconsin player blasted by Kenny Bell in the Big Ten Championship game did not fit any of these examples, nor did Bell use his helmet to target, nor did he hit the Wisconsin player above the shoulders.

Bell was penalized for "hitting too hard", plain and simple. Wisconsin fans would argue that Bell didn't need to hit their guy that hard, at which point we would respond, "DUH, FOOTBALL" and you can look forward to that same argument every single week of the season this fall.

It wouldn't be "rules changes" if there weren't more changed than just that one, so, look here's more!

  • A rule providing for a 10-second runoff when the clock stops inside a minute at the end of a half due to an injury.
  • Three seconds is now the minimum cutoff before which the ball can be spiked to stop the clock. If less than three seconds remain on the clock, the offense can only run one more play.
  • Players that change numbers while a game is being played must report to the referee, who will then announce it.
  • Multiple players from the same team can't wear the same number, aka the "Lane Kiffin Rule".
  • Electronic communication equipment is now permissible for use by officiating crews, but not required.
  • Instant replay can now be used to adjust the clock at the end of a quarter. The old rule only allowed for adjustment at the end of a half.
  • Numbers on the front and back of jerseys must be a distinctly different, solid color than the rest of the jersey.
I like these new rules. I like the minimum cutoff on the spike because it shouldn't be left to a homer clock operator's discretion at how fast time can tick off at the end of a game.

I like the idea that if old man Frank the line judge doesn't want to wear a walkie-talkie, he doesn't have to, although no one else will care but Frank.

I like that the numbers will be distinct, unlike the horrible uniforms that Nebraska and Wisconsin wore against each other in the regular season match up.

And the only problem with a "Lane Kiffin Rule" is what do you call the next rule created because of Lane Kiffin?

[Update - Let me clarify this statement: Multiple players from the same team can't wear the same number, aka the "Lane Kiffin Rule"]

The official statement is this:
To preclude multiple players from the same team from wearing the same uniform number (for example, two quarterbacks on the same team are not allowed to have the same number).

This came about because last year against Colorado Lane Kiffin's USC team had their backup quarterback switch jerseys during a game to run a two-point conversion. Specifically, last year Kiffin had his backup QB switch jerseys during a game. The USC backup QB switched jerseys from his regular #6 to #35 (same number as his punter) against Colorado during a two-point conversion play.