More Rule Changes For College Football's Braintrust To Consider

By Chris Lauderback on April 23, 2023 at 10:10 am
The L most often stands for "Lol lord have mercy that was a terrible call"

College football fans have opinions after the Playing Rules Oversight Panel announced earlier this week three new rule changes focused on decreasing the number of plays in the average game, with the intent of reducing injuries. 

I suppose the math makes sense and while I don't necessarily love change No. 1 on this list, it's hard to argue too vehemently with rules already in place in the NFL, which all of these are:

  1. The clock will now run after a first down with the exception of the final two minutes of either half. 
  2. Teams may no longer call consecutive team timeouts. 
  3. Any penalty that occurs at the end of the first or third quarter will carry over into the next quarter instead of ending the quarter on an untimed down. Either half cannot end on a defensive penalty unless it's declined by the opposing team.

While the panel's focus was on decreasing the number plays to hopefully reduce collisions and injuries (with no care whatsoever that the length of time it takes to play the games due to commercials and other ridiculously long stoppages will remain the same), it's too bad the group didn't take a longer look at other college football rules. 

Despite college football's existence reaching 154 years at this point, there's still some low-hanging fruit with regard to game play governance. Said differently, lol there are still some dumb ass rules within the game and it sure would be nice to get those addressed. Like, what about a fan's (mental) safety? Why is it always about the players?! 

So yeah, here's a list of rule changes for your consideration. Some are more serious than others. I'll let you decide which is which. 


Probably the most controversial manifesto in college football, the rule book (pdf) mentions the word "targeting" no less than 80 times. The sheer complexity created for an on-field official to ascertain whether or not a player is by definition defenseless, and then whether contact involved the crown of player's helmet, is a special kind of calculus. And like most humans, I say that as someone not really interested in defending the overall stank of college football officiating. 

Legislating targeting is so complex based on the rules I'm not focusing on that here. It would take 1,000 words by itself. Instead, it's the penalty that drives me nuts. We need two penalty levels. One that is a 15-yard infraction with no ejection and the other, the existing rule of 15-yards and ejection. I know that introduces another judgment call for refs to hose up but automatic ejection for some of the "by definition" targeting calls we've seen over the years is insanity. 


A puzzling difference between the NFL and college football, pros in possession of the ball are allowed to get up and keep running if they hit the ground inbounds but aren't touched by a defender. 

For reasons I'm unaware of but I'm sure can't be cool and good, college players in possession of the ball aren't allowed to get up and advance the ball if they hit the ground inbounds, period. 

It makes no sense to reward a defense or punish the offense in this manner. 


You can't "ridicule an opponent verbally," choreograph any act to bring attention to yourself, "place a hand to the ear to request recognition," point your finger, arm or the ball at an opponent, "obviously alter stride before reaching the end zone," or even unnecessarily dive into the end zone without a flag. No "bowing at the waist after a good play" either. 

Look, I know we need some lines in the sand but count me as a fan of the days when the Miami Hurricanes basically created the video NCAA officials used to help players understand what would no longer be tolerated during the course of play. The one segment during ESPN's 30 for 30 series on the 'Canes when the former players talk about watching that video, high-fiving each other and laughing at the fact the highlight reel of now-infractions was 80% Miami players was high comedy.

Make no mistake, I disliked those Canes teams as much as you and I continue reveling in the fact Ohio State literally broke their program but the sport needs a few villains right? Let's have some fun. It's not life or death. And hell, a lot of the players today are being paid handsomely while they're out there. You think they can't handle a little taunting or a high-step by an opponent into the end zone? Let them live a little.  


Maybe one of you can help me understand why the offensive team loses possession of the ball entirely, by way of a touchback, when an offensive player fumbles the ball into and out of the opponent's end zone.

Why are we rewarding defenses that have likely stunk to that point, or else the ball wouldn't be near the goal line to being with, when this happens? 

A fumble of this type anywhere else on the field results in the offense maintaining possession - but of course with the ball placed back at the spot of the fumble - to prevent ball carriers from rolling that sucker diagonally ahead and out of bounds when they're feeling frisky. 

I'm not against a punishment greater than simply placing the ball at the spot of the fumble but the offense should at least retain possession. Hell, back the offense up to the 20 if you must but giving the defense a turnover and touchback is a special kind of stupidity. 


Should we just go ahead and eliminate traditional kickoffs at this point? Something like less than three kickoffs per game are actually returned, with kicks either sailing into the end zone for a touchback or being fair caught outside the end zone for a touchback at a boring rate. 

The whole exercise is a largely a waste of time an energy at this point and probably just leads to more commercials and downtime. 

I say we give the kicking team two options. It can either opt to give the opponent possession at the 25 yard line without kicking or it can elect to try an onside kick from the 50 yard line. 

That would not only avoid the uselessness of kicking the ball into the end zone or making a fair catch, it would provide some excitement by motivating more teams to onside kick without such a steep field position penalty if they don't recover the ball. Okay this is probably a bit XFL-ish but the obligatory commercial > predictable kickoff touchback > commercial sandwich is wearing on my psyche. 

View 64 Comments