More Rule Changes Coming

When current Denver Nuggets coach George Karl was with Seattle, he wrote a book called "This Game's the Best! So Why Don't They Quit Screwing With It?" College football fans may be thinking the same thing.

College football fans may not agree with Karl's choice of the best game, but they likely agree with the sentiment after the NCAA Football Rules Committee has yet again come up with a proposal to reduce the amount of football we get to see this fall as part of their recent suggestions.

The most questionable idea this year involves clock stoppages on out of bounds plays. Previously, the game clock would not start again until the ball was snapped. Now, once the ball is spotted and ready for play the clock will start unless it's the final two minutes of a half. The absurd clock rule changes of two years ago only trimmed 14 minutes of total time from each game, so how much can this realistically knock off last year's 3:22 average? Not enough to justify losing plays, which is what this rule will cause to happen.

Not every idea the committee proposed was bad. This year, coaches who challenge a referee's ruling and are proved correct by the replay booth will get another challenge. Previously coaches got just one challenge per game, which meant coaches were hesitant to use it early on anything less than an enormously important play. Given what we've seen from officiating in recent years, anything which will help prevent them from making a game deciding error is good news.

That's why another of the rules proposals is so befuddling. If the committee gets its way, all facemasks will either be a 15-yard penalty or nothing from now on, with the idea being that "incidental" facemasks won't be called. Much like enforcement of celebration penalties varies wildly from crew to crew, now it will be anyone's guess what is going to be a penalty and what isn't. In April, the NCAA's Playing Rules Oversight Panel will give their final approval of the proposals. Hopefully they will reject this one, but it seems likely all the ideas will be approved for 2008.

NEW PLACE FOR STARR TO SHINE

Former UF Director of Football Operations Troy Starr has been hired as coach of one of the premier programs in the San Diego area. After moving to Florida from California and spending 2007 with Urban Meyer's staff, Starr has been named coach of La Mesa Helix High. That's the school where former Utah QB Alex Smith and future Heisman winner Reggie Bush once lined up in the same backfield. Having Starr on the west coast again could really be a boost for Florida's future recruiting efforts in southern California. One prospect from Helix the Gators had reportedly already offered for next season is tight end Levine Toilolo. There's been no word as of yet from UF on Starr's replacement.

HARVEY HEADING NORTH?

With free agency about to begin, team needs will be constantly changing before the NFL Draft. Right now, though, there seems to be a consensus that Minnesota will be looking to add Derrick Harvey to their team at the seventeenth pick. Minnesota's starting left defensive end Kenechi Udeze was diagnosed with leukemia earlier this month, meaning the Vikings have an unexpected hole to fill at the position. Among those projecting Harvey to the Vikings have been CBS Sports's Pete Prisco, SI.com's Don Banks and the Sports Xchange.

Harvey might like Chris Steuber of Scout.com's idea better - he has Harvey to Carolina at pick 13. For Harvey and the rest of this year's NFL prospects, the next step toward their pro careers comes Thursday with the opening of the NFL combine in Indianapolis. Harvey's currently believed to be battling it out with Phillip Merling of Clemson to be rated third best defensive end prospect behind Virginia's Chris Long and Ohio State's Vernon Gholston.

IT'S GOOD TO BE THE KING

While Chris Leak will have to battle Eric Kresser for the starting quarterback spot on Team Florida of the All American Football League this April, he recently got another reminder that national championship perks carry on for years. Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker was asked for her secret athlete crush last week and named Leak. Both of them are from Charlotte but according to Decker, "I had never seen him without a mask and pads on until the Gators won the 2006 national championship and I thought, "That's a really good-looking guy." Think Leak might have a few teammates suggesting he should try and get in touch?

Just in case you need to verify that Brooklyn would be worthy of dating Leak, you can check out her portfolio at SI's web site.

The Heath Cline Show airs daily from 11-1 on Gainesville's Star 99.5 FM


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