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NCAA modifies roughing the passer rule for hits below the knees

By Tom Fornelli | Staff Writer

NCAA approves new roughing the passer penalty
The 'Tom Brady Rule' is coming to college football. (USATSI)

Good news, everybody. There's a new rule for college football referees to screw up during the course of the upcoming season. All right, maybe that's not actually a good thing, but the spirit behind the new rule certainly is.

The NCAA's Playing Rules Oversight Committee approved a new rule Wednesday that hitting a quarterback at or below the knees during a passing situation will result in a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty. The rule will go into effect for the 2014 season.

What exactly the rule entails, well, the NCAA explains that "the rule specifically covers a scenario in which a quarterback is in a passing posture with one or both feet on the ground. In that situation, no defensive player rushing unabated can hit him forcibly at or below the knee. The defensive player also may not initiate a roll or lunge and forcibly hit the quarterback in the knee area or below." There are exceptions, however. Namely that once a quarterback becomes a runner he's just like any other ball carrier. Also, once the defender is engaged in a tackle of the quarterback, the passing situation is over, and if the defender is blocked into the quarterback's legs.

In other words, like I alluded to up top, referees have something new to keep their eyes on when it comes to quarterbacks in the pocket. There will no doubt be mistakes made this season, but the only way to make sure a referee never blows a call would be to get rid of all the rules.

And as fun as that might sound for fans, it's probably not best for the players.

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