Another Round of Rules Changes

HOOVER, Ala. -- Pardon me for showing my age as a 50-year-old grump, but I sure long for the good old days. I'm not talking about a simpler time or how much things were better 30 years ago. I'm talking about the good old days where you learned the rules of a sport one time and you knew them for life. Not anymore.

Whether it's tweaking the definitions on penalties or the dreaded BCS or "refining" clock rules to solve a non-existent problem, college football seems incapable of keeping the same rules from one season to the next. And 2008 is no exception.

Among the rules changes for this season is the elimination of the incidental face mask rule. Originally it appeared the rule would make ALL face mask violations 15-yard penalties, but as SEC Supervisor of Officials Rogers Redding explained Thursday that's not quite the case.

Rogers Redding on face mask changes ----- "The coaches on the committee felt that just grabbing the face mask without doing anything more (pulling, twisting, tugging) should not be a foul. If there is any doubt, it will be a personal foul because it's a safety issue, but the five yard penalty has gone away."

The NCAA has wisely followed the lead of the NFL and made the "Horse-Collar" tackle a personal foul. Additionally all "lead with the helmet" tackles are penalties and officials are instructed when in doubt, call it.

We'll also be adjusting to the latest clock rules changes. In case you are new to this discussion TV networks want all games over in 3:30 and they keep pressuring the NCAA to make it happen. God forbid they let the game kickoff at the scheduled time instead of 7-8 minutes later!

This year among the changes are a new 40-second clock that, like the NFL will start immediately at the end of the preceding play. The game clock will also resume running once the ball is spotted after a play that ends out of bounds; except that is in the final two minutes of the half. Florida coach Urban Meyer is no fan of these annual adjustments.

Urban Meyer on timing changes ----- "This is one of those five, four, three, two, one moments because I want to make sure I don't say something I shouldn't say. It's probably a good rule, but I'm so sick and tired of things changing. We're the ones that manage the games, so keep it. We're good. Whatever it is we'll make it work. People really got to get involved with something other than changing the clock rules. I keep hearing the games are too long. No they're not. They're fine. Let's just let the coaches coach and the players play."

One thing the 40-second clock will do is make it easier for teams to run out the game cock and preserve a win. I'm not sure that's such a good thing, either.

Questions or comments? Contact's Larry Vettel

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