College Football – Important Rule Changes for the 2019

by Dan M | Posted on Friday, August 30th, 2019

By National Football Foundation

Important Rule Changes for the 2019 College Football Season
CFO and NFF team up to highlight the changes designed to improve player safety.
As the season draws near, it is time for the National Football
Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame to highlight the key rule
changes that will take effect during the 2019 college football season.

Since 2011, the NFF has partnered with Rogers Redding, the
national coordinator of College Football Officiating (CFO), to help
generate awareness for the rule changes in college football through a
series of regular columns distributed by the NFF. The CFO functions as
the national professional organization for all football officials who
work games at the collegiate level, and the organization held its
annual winter meeting of conference coordinators for football
officials in late January for the seventh consecutive year at the NFF
headquarters in Irving, Texas.

Having officiated football for more than three decades, Redding
started his career working high school football in Texas. He later
officiated in the Southwest Conference from 1988-93, served as a
referee in the SEC for nearly a decade and worked three national
championship games. He received his bachelor’s degree from Georgia
Tech and later obtained a master’s and Ph.D. in physical chemistry
from Vanderbilt University. Redding was honored with the NFF’s
Outstanding Football Official Award in 2010.

The NCAA football rules committee met in Indianapolis in late
February and voted to recommend a number of changes for the 2019
season. The final changes were approved by the Playing Rules
Oversight Panel on April 22. Under the NCAA’s two-year rules process,
2019 is an “off year” for any changes other than those that directly
impact the safety of the players. Player-safety rules are always on
the table, and this year there are several changes in that category.
Here are the 2019 rule changes as summarized by Rogers Redding:

Targeting Foul Changes
The targeting foul has been one of the key rules in college
football for a number of years. It carries the most severe penalty in
the game: player disqualification. The rule calls for a player
committing a targeting foul that is sustained by instant replay to be
ejected from the game and suspended for the next half of play. This
means that a player disqualified in the second half must also sit out
the first half of his team’s next game.

This year, the rules committee further strengthened the penalty,
addressing the issue of repeat offenders. There is now a progressive
penalty for targeting. Under the new rule, a player who is ejected for
a third or more targeting foul anytime during the season also will be
ineligible for the entire next game. For example, suppose a player is
disqualified for targeting in two games any time during the season. If
he then is ejected for a third or more targeting foul anytime during
the rest of the season, he will be suspended also for the entire next
game.

It does not matter when this additional foul happens: whether it
is in the first quarter or the fourth quarter, he will be ineligible
for the whole next game. Also, it does not matter when the next game
is played. It might be during the bowl season, a national championship
game or possibly the first game of the next season. It is the player’s
next scheduled game—whenever that is.

The role of instant replay in administering the targeting foul is
also being changed. Every targeting foul goes for instant replay
review, as in the past. However, starting in 2019 the replay
official will look at all aspects of the play and make one of two
rulings: either the call on the field is confirmed or it is
overturned. A ruling of “stands” will no longer be possible for a
targeting review.

Wedge Blocking on Kickoffs
For a number of years, the three-man wedge has been illegal on
kickoffs. This is when three players on the receiving team align
shoulder-to-shoulder within two yards of each other to block for the
ball carrier. Beginning in 2019, this rule is even more restrictive:
the two-man wedge will be illegal and will carry a 15-yard penalty. As
in the past, the wedge is not illegal during an onside kick or when
the play results in a touchback. The only change is that the two-man
wedge is outlawed.

Blindside Blocks
A player delivers a blindside block when the opponent cannot see
the block coming in time to defend himself. For a number of years,
such a block has been outlawed as a targeting foul if it includes
forcible contact to the head or neck area. In 2019, the new rules will
broaden the restrictions for blindside blocks. It will now be illegal
to deliver a blindside block by attacking an opponent with forcible
contact, no matter where the contact is made.

The words attacking and forcible will be key for the officials on
the field in calling this foul. If the contact is to the head or neck
area, it is still a targeting foul. However, it will now be a personal
foul even if by rule it is not a targeting foul-that is, even if the
block is not to the head or neck area. The blindside block foul will
carry a 15-yard penalty.

Overtime
This past season featured a game that went for seven extra
periods. Although the vast majority of overtime games are decided much
sooner-say, in two or three extra periods-there is the occasional game
that goes longer. The rules committee feels that players may become
extremely fatigued in such long games, thus making them much more
susceptible to injury.

Beginning in 2019, starting with the fifth overtime, each team
will have only one play: a two-point conversion attempt from the
three-yard line. For a number of years, beginning with the third
overtime a team that scores a touchdown must attempt a two-point
conversion. This will still be true for the third and fourth
overtimes, but when the fifth overtime begins, the new
one-play-per-team rule will take effect.

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