Instant replay officials might have a two-minute limit to make a decision using video, according to a rule change recommended on Friday by the NCAA Football Rules Committee, which met this week in Indianapolis.
“If you get to two minutes, it’s time to wrap it up,” said Steve Shaw, the NCAA Secretary-Rules Editor and National Coordinator of Officials. “If you’re at two minutes and you don’t know the answer, it’s time to let it stand and not continue to drag the process out.”
Shaw said college football had 2.2 replays per game last year, and the concern is over the long reviews. The time limit was one of several rules proposed this week, but one of the topics that generated the most “robust” discussion, Shaw said, is difficult to regulate — players faking injuries. Shaw said coaches and officials considered instituting a number of potential consequences, but for now decided to put the onus on the head coaches.
“It is evident enough for us to have to have a conversation about it,” said Stanford head coach David Shaw, chair of the Football Rules Committee. “There are a lot of teams in pretty much every conference now that are going up-tempo. This has been used as a way to try to stop it. For us as coaches, it’s a tactic that lacks integrity.
“The ones that are really obvious, we have to talk about those,” he said, “we have to talk about what we’re teaching our young people and focus on the things that are within the rules of our game.”
One rule that was proposed this week was aimed directly at player behavior.
As a result of negative interactions between teams before officials are required to be on the field, the committee recommended that game officials’ jurisdiction begins 90 minutes before kickoff, instead of the current 60 minutes. Another part of the proposal calls for a coach to be on the field during pregame warmups when players are present, and all players are to be identified by number.
The pregame scuffle at the Belk Bowl this past season between Kentucky and Virginia Tech was part of the discussion, David Shaw said, but not the only example that prompted the rule. During the Belk Bowl, ESPN cameras appeared to catch UK quarterback Lynn Bowden punch Virginia Tech defensive tackle DaShawn Crawford. Players from both teams had to be separated multiple times before warmups started.
“There were a few other instances,” David Shaw said. “They don’t all have to be fights and scuffles, but some of them, it’s a bad look for our game. … Some of these pregame shenanigans that have gone one, we want to try to curb those and have our players come out with an identifiable mark, separate the teams a little earlier so everyone knows where they’re supposed to be.”
One rule that could get a slight tweak in 2020 is targeting. If the rule is approved, players flagged for targeting would remain disqualified, but instead of being ejected and required to head to the locker room — which has been the rule since 2013 — players could stay in the team area. All other aspects of the targeting rule would remain the same.
“Other ejection fouls, such as fighting or two unsportsmanlike conducts, they will still have to leave the playing enclosure,” Steve Shaw said.
All rules proposals must be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which is scheduled to discuss proposed football changes April 16.