NCAA Rule Changes - Part 2

In part two of our examination of the NCAA football rule changes for 2011-2012, we are going to cover the two rule changes that I believe will attract the most controversy by the fans and gain the most coverage by the media.


Rule 3-4-4 has been added to NCAA rules as a variation and adaptation of NFL rules of clock management near the end of the 1st and 2nd half.   To prevent a team from gaining a clock advantage in forcing the clock to stop by committing a foul, a 10-second rundown of the game clock is part of the penalty option for fouls that stop the clock with less than one minute left in either half. The 10-second rule does not apply if the game clock is NOT running when the foul occurs.

Fouls that fall into this category include, but are not limited to:

(a) Any foul that prevents the snap (e.g., false start, encroachment, defensive offside by contact in the neutral zone, etc.);

(b) Intentional grounding to stop the clock;

(c) Incomplete illegal forward pass;

(d)  Backward pass thrown out of bounds to stop the clock;

(e) Any other foul committed with the intent of stopping the clock (referee's discretion).

The offended team may accept the yardage penalty and decline the 10-second subtraction. However if the yardage penalty is declined, the 10-second subtraction is declined BY RULE.

The 10-second rule does not apply if the game clock is not running when the foul occurs, or if the foul does not cause the game clock to stop (i.e., illegal formation).

If the fouling team has a timeout remaining they may avoid the 10-second subtraction by using a time-out.

The clock starts on the Referee's ready signal if the 10-second subtraction is applied.  It starts on the snap if there is no 10-second subtraction. If a timeout is used to prevent the 10-second runoff, the clock starts on the snap as with any timeout.

Examples:   Play #1:  Tech is behind by two points with the game clock running, and Tech is out of timeouts. The play clock shows (a) 13 seconds; or (b) 8 seconds remaining in the game when the split receiver commits a false start. The opponent accepts both the yardage penalty and the 10-second runoff option.  Because the foul stopped the clock with less than one minute remaining in the game, in (a) 3 seconds will be set remaining on the clock, 5 yards are marked off, and the clock starts on the ready.  In (b), there is no time left on the clock, and the game is over. Opponents win.   What a way to end the game!!  

Play #2:  Tech trails by two points, second and ten, at the opponent's 15 yard line with no timeouts remaining.  At the snap there 5 players in the backfield, which draws a flag, but doesn't stop the action.   Doege gains 3 yards to the 12 yd/line. When the play is over and the ball is declared dead, the clock shows (a) 13 seconds; or (b) 8 seconds. RULING:  In both cases the foul occurred at the snap and did not cause the clock to stop. Therefore the penalty of 5 yards is administered, but no 10-second runoff applies.  The clock starts on the Referee's ready signal. It will be Tech's ball second and 15, at the 20 yd/line in both cases.

Play #3:  Tech is leading by three points with less than a minute remaining in the game. The ball is made ready for play with the game clock running, Tech ball, 3rd and 7 at the opponents 35 yd/line. The nose guard jumps the count and makes contact with the center, and the officials shut down the play with 38 seconds remaining on the game clock. The opponents are out of time outs. Ruling:  Offside against the nose guard.  5 yard penalty and a choice by Tech of a 10-second subtraction in game time. Most likely it will be 3rd and 2 at the 30 yd/line, and 28 seconds left with the clock starting on the Referee's ready signal.  


The receiver makes a catch at the 15 and is wide open to the end zone. At the 5yd/line he turns around, jogs backwards into the end zone, pointing at and taunting verbally his opponent the last 5 yards.  An unsportsmanlike conduct flag is thrown for the foul. Previously the penalty was a live ball foul, but enforced as a dead ball foul.  Thus the touchdown counted, and the penalty was enforced on either the try or the kickoff as chosen by the offended team.  Now the new rule penalizes an unsportsmanlike conduct foul as a live ball spot foul if it occurs while the ball is alive.  Thus in the above play, the foul occurs at the 5 yard line before the touchdown, and the ball is live.  The touchdown does not count, and the 15 yard penalty marks the ball ready for play at the 20 yard line. The down and distance depends on whether the line to gain was made or not.

If the unsportsmanlike conduct foul occurred after the ball is dead (i.e. after the player crosses the goal line), then the penalty continues to be assessed on the ensuing try or kickoff.

If an unsportsmanlike conduct foul is committed by a coach or other sideline bench personnel, the penalty will also continue to be enforced as a dead ball foul, regardless of the status of the ball at the time of the foul.

A big change relates to defensive unsportsmanlike conduct fouls. They now include an automatic first down.


Play #1:   First and 10 at the 40 yard line. A sweep opens a hole for the running back, and just before the runner crosses the goal line for a score, either he or a teammate taunts an opponent or makes an obscene gesture at the 5 yard line.   Ruling:  This is a live ball foul for unsportsmanlike conduct. The score does not count, and the 15 yard penalty is enforced from the spot of the foul. Because the ball will be placed at the 20 yard line, and the line to gain was the 30, at first down will still be awarded to the offense because the line to gain was made.   

Play #2:  Same as #1, except this time the runner or teammate waits until after the runner has crossed the goal line before the taunting or making of an obscene gesture occurs. Ruling: Touchdown counts, and the penalty is enforced on the try or the ensuing kickoff.

Play #3:  Same as #1, but this time the coach yells obscenities from the team box as the Line Judge passes by following the touchdown run.  Ruling:  The touchdown counts, and the penalty is enforced or the try or ensuing kickoff.

Play #4:  Fourth and 20 from the offense's 15 yard line.  The punt is partially blocked and rolls out of bounds at the 30. The defensive player who blocked the ball immediately taunts the punter before the ball rolls out of bounds. An unsportsmanlike conduct flag is thrown, and a 15 yard penalty assessed. Before this year, the next play would still belong to the offense, but would be 4th down and 5 from the 30. Now an automatic first down is awarded, so it will be 1st down and 10 at the 30.  This is a big change in enforcement.      

Our third and final segment will include most of the remaining rule changes for 2011-2012. It will appear exclusively on early next week. 







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