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Corn Flakes: 2015 College Football Rules Changes And More About Officiating

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David McGee

Here are the 2015 major rule changes as summarized by Rogers Redding, the National Coordinator of College Football Officiating:

Crew of Eight Officials: For about thirty years the rules have allowed as many as seven officials on the field. Based on an approved experiment by the Big 12 Conference, the rules now allow for eight officials. The eighth official, the center judge (with the letter "C" on the uniform), is positioned in the offensive backfield opposite the referee.

I wanted to make a snarky joke about having more people to buy rounds at the bar after the game, but having one more official on the field makes a lot of sense given the increased size, speed, and scrutiny that comes with football these days.

Non-Standard Overbuilt Facemasks Are Illegal: This is a facemask characterized by greater weight and closer spacing between the bars. Use of the facemask is a safety issue as opponents can easily get their fingers caught in the tight space. The NFL outlawed this facemask a few years ago.

You might be included to ask - "What is someone doing sticking their hands in a guy's facemask?", but it's going to happen over and over on the line during normal play.

Illegal Equipment: Player is Out for One Play: Up until now, if the officials noticed that a player was wearing illegal equipment, the team was charged one of its three timeouts. The new rule is that the player must leave the game for at least one play and may not return until the equipment is made legal. His team may burn a timeout to keep him from missing a down, but the equipment must be corrected before he is allowed to play.

Timeouts are sacred?

Pregame Warm-Ups: Teams Guaranteed Access to the Field: By the new rule, the teams are now guaranteed that they may remain on the field for pregame warm-ups until at least 22 minutes before the opening kickoff. The committee was concerned that teams were being forced to leave the field early because of other pregame activities, and thus were having to spend too much time in the locker room before the kickoff. The new rule may be suspended for a given game by prior mutual agreement of the teams.

I like this rule. I like it a lot. Home teams don't get to screw around with visiting teams by leaving their band out there, or because they feel the need to give out 3,000 awards.

Resetting the Play Clock When the Ball is Not Ready for Play: When the play clock begins its count from 40 seconds, on rare occasions the officials will have difficulty getting a new ball from the sidelines. In such a case after some period of time, the referee will stop the game clock and signal for the play clock to be reset to 25 seconds. In previous years, this was done after 20 seconds had elapsed. This has been changed to 15 seconds, to prevent too much time from running off the clock. This happens very seldom, but there must be a rule to deal with it.

You know why there must be a rule to deal with it?

Lawyers.

Oh, hahaha.

Think about this for a minute. Think about many friggin' rules are there for college football, the fact that the officials have to remember them and then apply them at game speed.

Helmet off Defensive Player: Play Clock Set to 40 Seconds: When a player’s helmet comes off, the game clock is stopped, and the player must leave the game for one play. In past years, the play clock has been set to 25 seconds.

Last year, however, there were a few situations near the end of a half where this happened with more than 25 seconds on the game clock; this forces the offense to have to snap the ball one more time when they were trying to run out the clock. So now the play clock is set to 40 seconds when a defensive player loses his helmet, and still to 25 seconds when it is a player on offense. This is also consistent with the rule for stopping the game due to an injured player.

All I see here is "blah blah blah de blah" because it's an attention to detail that I don't have anymore, especially while running the game threads here at CN.

Pushing or Pulling an Opponent off the Pile: Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Player safety continues to be a major emphasis of the rules committee. This new rule addresses player action at the end of a fumble play, for example, when several players are scuffling for the ball in a pile.

Starting in 2015, if a player forcibly pulls or pushes an opponent off the pile, he is to be charged with unsportsmanlike conduct.

Here’s why this is important: if a player is flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct twice in the game, he is automatically disqualified after the second offense. The committee believes this will be a major deterrent to this kind of action, which can lead to more trouble and potential injury.

This is a good idea and will no doubt lead to more controversy (and more web hits WOOOHOOO!) as we all argue about "who started it" because the official will ALWAYS see the second guy push back.

Sideline Warning Returns: An important point of emphasis for the rules committee and the officials is keeping the sidelines clean. This means that players and coaches are not allowed in the restricted area---the space between the sidelines and the coaches’ box and team area.

For a long time, the first infraction led to a sideline warning, with no yardage penalty. After a few years the rule was changed to assess a five-yard penalty for the first offense. Now, we are returning to the warning for the first infraction. No yardage penalty will result until the second offense.

On behalf of the officials, I think this sucks. If a team gets so exuberant they feel the need to get in an official's way, they should be penalized.

Instant Replay: Blocking During an On-Side Kick May Be Reviewed: One of the important rules about kickoffs is that the kicking team is not allowed to touch the ball until it has gone ten yards, unless a receiver touches the ball first. After it has gone ten yards, either team may get the ball. A rule that is not so well known is that the kicking team may not block until they are eligible to touch the ball. The instant replay official (IRO) has always been able to review whether the kick is touched.

Starting in 2015, the IRO may also review whether the kicking team blocks before being eligible to touch the ball; if they do, it is a foul. The rules committee feels that because of the enormous potential for the kicking team to get possession of the ball as the result of blocking too early, the IRO should be able to review this play and possibly "create a foul" from the replay booth.

I like this rule too. It's not just because of the possibility of the kicking team recovering the ball; there is nothing shittier than trying to be aware where the ball is and getting blindsided by an asshole who wants to hit you either early or when you're not looking.

Five years ago, I did a series of interviews with a friend who is a collegiate official. He's now experienced enough that he's in FBS.

It's worth taking a look back at that series:

Understanding College Football Officiating - What Does It Take To Become A FCS-Level Official?

Understanding College Football Officiating - The Crew And Their Keys

Understanding College Football Officiating - Post-Snap Keys And Responsibilities

Understanding College Football Officiating - Why Don't They Call Holding?

All of these still apply today.

It takes years to become a FBS official. Officials spend the offseason repeatedly taking tests about the rules, and yet they're subjected to some of the worst fan behavior on the field.

Let's all try to keep that in mind during the season (a concept which will last about 23 seconds into the first game).

And now for news!

Stiehm-Powered: Jumbo Wins & A Bigger Payday | Hail Varsity
When did Nebraska first start to resemble a national football power? It starts with Jumbo Stiehm in 1911.

Huskers Drew Brown in control of kicking spot - Nebraska - Scout

The projected Nebraska kicking battle has gone cold after a strong fall camp from Drew Brown.

Good news, but damn your autostart video.

Minnesota Football: Opponent Preview #7 Nebraska Cornhuskers - The Daily Gopher
The first home Big Ten game is a major key to the Gophers season

Michigan State Spartans Football: Ranking the Big Ten's Coaches - The Only Colors
8. Mike Riley - Nebraska (93-80/N/A): Oh how the mighty have fallen. While Bo Pelini clearly wasn't ready for the challenge of coaching in the Big Ten or even the Big Twelve, Nebraska should have been able to do better than a middle of the road coach from the Pac 12 as his replacement.

Wisconsin vs. Alabama: Badgers Q&A with AL.com - Bucky's 5th Quarter
Badgers...Bama...I help break down the Wisconsin side of things

2015 Purdue Football: 10 Reasons For Optimism - Hammer and Rails
Otherwise known as Why I Decided To Stop Bitching And Love The Boilermakers Again

Illinois Fighting Illini hire former Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe to consult
The University of Illinois has hired a consulting firm led by former Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe as it deals with former athletes' allegations of mistreatment.

Idaho's Paul Petrino Loses His Temper on a Local Reporter (Again) - Underdog Dynasty
Calm down, Paul.

Penn State's Jack Ham Selected to the FWAA's 75th Anniversary All-America Team - Black Shoe Diaries
NFL and college football hall of famer Jack Ham was selected by the Football Writers Association of America to its 75th anniversary All-America team.

Illinois Football: Dick Butkus named to FWAA 75th anniversary team - The Champaign Room
Butkus is sole Illinois constituent on the list.

CAL JONES NAMED TO FWAA 75TH ANNIVERSARY TEAM - Black Heart Gold Pants
Jones is the sole Iowa constituent on the list.

HAHAHAHA. One apiece.

Baylor football player convicted of sexual assault - WacoTrib.com: Courts And Trials

Baylor investigated the incident, but Associate Dean Bethany McCraw testified outside the presence of the jury that she determined "by a preponderance of the evidence that there was not enough evidence to move forward." Ukwuachu was not arrested until the case was forwarded to the district attorney’s office. Baylor had cleared him to play until he was indicted, according to defense attorney Jonathan Sibley.

I'm really starting to hate Art Briles. Yes, he's turned around Baylor, but... this is the cost?

Read this article and you can come away with nothing but disgust.

Baylor, Art Briles ignored responsibility in admitting Sam Ukwuachu

When Art Briles recruited Sam Ukwuachu to Baylor University, he turned every female on campus into a potential victim. When Briles' superiors signed off on bringing the talented defensive end to Waco, they tacitly approved of putting students in harm's wake.

Pretty damning article from Dan Wolken, as it should be.

Deez Nuts, explained - Vox

What a fake presidential candidate's inclusion in real polls tells us about the presidential race.

Ending with some levity because some things you just need to know.