Rules of the Game - Part 2

Dr. Ron North, a retired physician and former official weighs in on the rule changes in 2012 for college football.


Currently, when the runner's helmet comes off during a play, the ball is declared dead immediately (9-3-1q).  Now, more and more player's helmets other than the ball carriers' are coming off.  The Committee has now enacted an incentive rule for players to wear properly fitting helmets that don't easily come off accidentally during the game.  Beginning in 2012, if a player's helmet comes off while the ball is alive, not attributable to a foul by the opponent, the player is treated the same as a player who is injured. The clock is stopped at the end of the play, and the player whose helmet came off must leave the game for one play. He must stay out for that one play, whether a time out or end of period occurs. Also the player must stop all action other than that in which he is engaged.  If he continues he is guilty of a personal foul.  Such a player, by definition, is a player obviously out of the play.   Thus he cannot be contacted (9-1-12b)

If a helmet coming off is the only reason the game clock is stopped, and there is LESS than one minute in the half or the game, the opponent has the option of a 10 second runoff, in which the play clock will be set at 25 seconds, and the game clock starts on the referee's signal.  If a timeout is available, the 10 second runoff may be avoided by use of the timeout.  If there is no runoff, the game clock will be started on the snap.

If a helmet coming off is the only reason the game clock is stopped, and there is MORE than one minute remaining in the half or game, the play clock will be set at 25 seconds if the player is from the offense, and 40 seconds if the player is on defense. The game clock starts on the referee's signal.

Of course the current rule  regarding a player intentionally removing his own helmet is still in force;  unsportsmanlike conduct, 15 yards, and automatic 1st down if foul is by the defense.

Examples: Play 1:  While tackling the runner, the nose guard's helmet comes off. He, either, (a) immediately releases the runner; (b) continues chase to make the tackle; (c) or is blocked by the center trying to separate the nose tackle from the runner.  Ruling:  The ball remains alive until the play is over.   In (a) No foul; (b) nose guard does not foul if he maintains contact during the tackle; if however he dislodges and re-engages, a personal foul incurs; and in (c) the center is guilty of a personal foul, hitting a player who is out of the play.

Play 2:  With ten seconds remaining in the 4th quarter, and the game clock is running, both teams have used their timeouts. The helmet comes off (a) the Left tackle, or (b) the nose guard. The play ends with 6 seconds left on the game clock.

Ruling:  Because there is less than a minute left in the half or game, a 10 second runoff may apply. If the opponent of the player whose helmet comes off elects, the game is over.

Play 3:   With 2 minutes left in the game, a third down pass is caught inbounds and the receiver is tackled short of a first down. The game clock shows 1:33 left in the game when the official stops the clock because (a) the receiver's helmet was knocked off, or (b) the cornerback's helmet came off.  Ruling:  Since there are more than 60 seconds remaining in the half, the 10 second runoff does not apply. The play clock will be set at (a) 25 seconds, and (b) 40 seconds, with the game clock starting on the referee's signal.  In either case, the player must remain out of the game for one play.


In addition to the prohibition of defensive players leaping and landing on another player during scoring kicks, (field goals and extra points), now they may not attempt to block a PUNT by jumping OVER a kicking team player behind the neutral zone inside the tackle box.  It is not a foul if the defensive player jumps straight up and does not jump over an opponent, nor is it a foul if the player jumps through the gap between two blockers.  The penalty is 15 yards from the previous spot (line of scrimmage) and automatic 1st down.


Finally there is no longer any restriction on the color of gloves worn by the players.  What this has to do with player safety, who knows?

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