IRVING, Texas – Since 2011, The National Football Foundation (NFF) has partnered with Rogers Redding, the national coordinator of College Football Officiating (CFO), to help generate awareness for the rule changes in college football through a series of regular columns distributed by the NFF. With training camps in full swing, the month of August provides the perfect time for the NFF to highlight the key rule changes and officiating points of emphasis that will be in effect during the 2014 season.
The Four Major Rule Changes for the 2014 Season
1. Targeting Fouls: Instant Replay Can Remove the 15-Yard Penalty
Part of the penalty for targeting fouls is that the player is ejected from the game. In games where instant replay is used, the player is returned to the game if the video review shows conclusively that there was no forcible contact to the head and neck area or with the crown of the helmet. If this happens in 2014, and there is not another personal foul in combination with the targeting foul, then the 15-yard penalty is also erased. Examples of combination personal fouls include roughing the passer and kick or catch interference. In cases where such fouls are accompanied by a targeting call, the 15-yard penalty will still be enforced, even if the player’s ejection is overturned.
2. Targeting Fouls in Games Without Instant Replay: Halftime Review
In games where instant replay is not used, there is no opportunity for an immediate video review. A 2014 rule change now allows the referee to review a first-half foul at halftime when video is available at the game site. If this halftime review convinces the referee that the player should not have been ejected, he may return to the game for the second half. Such a review is optional. There must be a conference policy in place, or pregame agreement between the teams in interconference games, which specifies where the review will occur and what kind of video will be used. The decision of the referee is final and may not be appealed.
Second-half targeting fouls may still be reviewed by appeal to the national coordinator of officials to determine whether the player is required to sit out the first half of his team’s next game. This rule is unchanged from 2013.
3. Low Hits on the Passer
An extension of the rule for roughing the passer, a new rule in 2014 prohibits the defense from making forcible contact at the knee or below to an opponent who is in a passing posture. It is designed to eliminate knee injuries on plays where the defensive player forcibly drives a shoulder, helmet or forearm into the lower leg of the passer. This rule is not intended to prevent the defense from making a legitimate wrap-up tackle in which the contact is at or below the knee.
4. Player Numerals Must Contrast With the Jersey
Last year the rules committee clarified the rule requiring that the player’s uniform number must clearly contrast with the jersey itself. During the 2013 season there was an interpretation that introduced a penalty for a team wearing a jersey that does not comply. This interpretation has now been codified as a rule.
Beginning in 2014, the referee will ask the team to change into legal jerseys before the game begins. If the team does not change, it will be charged with a timeout. The same opportunity will be offered during the time between the first and second quarters, at halftime and at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and again a timeout will be charged each time the team does not comply. This means that a team could potentially burn four of its allotted six timeouts for the game because of the illegal jerseys.