A word, if we may, on several of the new proposals put forward by the NCAA Football Rules Committee:
Loss of Helmet During Play. If a player loses his helmet (other than as the result of a foul by the opponent, like a facemask), it will be treated like an injury. The player must leave the game and is not allowed to participate for the next play. Current injury timeout rules guard against using this rule to gain an advantage from stopping the clock. Additionally, if a player loses his helmet, he must not continue to participate in play to protect him from injury.
We suppose we have to be all for this one, and we suppose we are. With all that precious cargo helmets are designed to protect, it would be ideal if they were fitted properly, adjusted as needed during the game, and if there were incentives to do so. Who was it who first pointed out how, in that brief moment when the helmet flies off, there’s always a double take to make sure there’s not a head still in it? That’s a fun time. We’ll miss that soupçon of barbarism.
Kickoff and Touchback Starting Lines Moved. The committee voted to move the kickoff to the 35-yard line (currently set at the 30-yard line), and to require that kicking team players must be no further than five yards from the 35 at the kick, which is intended to limit the running start kicking teams have during the play. The committee also voted to move the touchback distance on free kicks to the 25-yard line instead of the 20-yard line to encourage more touchbacks.
This may have an unintended side effect of ratcheting up the hilarity of punting from one’s opponent’s 35, but nobody will be laughing in 2027 when the ball’s just handed to teams at the 50 and participants on free kick plays must don moon shoes and chase the ball down with butterfly nets.
Shield Blocking Scheme on Punting Plays. [...] In several cases, a receiving team player attempts to jump over this type of scheme in the backfield to block a punt. In some cases, these players are contacted and end up flipping in the air and landing on their head or shoulders. The committee is extremely concerned about this type of action and proposed a rule similar to the leaping rule on place kicks that does not allow the receiving team to jump over blockers, unless the player jumps straight up or between two players.
From football, to feelingsball to … figure skating? This will put additional subjectivity calls in the hands of referees, which will in no way end in heartbreak and despair. Just how straight up is “straight up”? What if a player’s hips are not properly tucked under when his feet leave the ground? How unenthusiastic must a leap at a punt be not to draw ire from the stripes? TOE PICK.
*And now a series of several disclaimers: We know why these rules are being proposed. We don’t like it when college football players get hurt either. When they are hurt, they cannot play football, and football is the best. We have never rooted for a player’s actual head to be severed from his body in a game situation, except in the 2000 Fiesta Bowl, and we were 17 and kind of stupid at the time and anyway it didn’t work, ERIC CROUCH. In our perfect sporting biodome, players would hurdle other players and do flips in the endzone all the time and nobody would ever land awkwardly on his neck, or anybody else’s neck, ever. This will never happen. We are comfortable with enjoying spectacular hits while, at the same time, hoping fervently that everyone involved gets up, shakes it off, and prepares for the next play. This dilemma is one of many the modern sports fan must straddle. We actually think New Mexico football would make a fine addition to the Big East. One of the preceding italicized sentences is untrue. Campus Union reminds you to please binge drink responsibly when soldiering through the first weekend of the new year without any sort of football. Have a great day.