It's come too late to save Tennessee's infamous last-second -- or more accurately, post- last-second -- Music City Bowl loss to North Carolina. But in the wake of the Tar Heels saving themselves from watching the clock run out by accidentally committing an offensive penalty, the NCAA has now officially followed the NFL's lead in instituting a 10-second runoff for offensive infractions inside the final minute of either half.
Technically, the runoff isn't mandatory; the defending team has the option of declining both it and the penalty if they happen to be behind.
The new rule was recommended in February by the NCAA's Football Rules Committee and approved by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel, who naturally led their release with the panel's relatively minor change to receivers' ability to block below the waist. The NCAA also offers no recommendations on what to call the new clock regulation, though the "Dooley Rule" has to be the leader in the clubhouse.
Reviewing the other rules changes:
- Previously, receivers' below-the-waist blocks (i.e. "cut" blocks, though you knew that already) were determined to be legal based in part on how close they were to the line-of-scrimmage or whether they were in motion. Now, unless they start the play within seven yards of the center (essentially, as a tight end), receiver's cut blocks must be made against a player facing them or headed towards the sideline. It sounds confusing, but from the official's perspective, disregarding the previous qualifications in favor of "have you lined up inside the tackle box or as a tight end or not?" has simplified things. We think.
- The panel gave final approval to two rules changes already decided on last year, the more noteworthy of which is the shift of taunting penalties to live ball fouls, giving the officials the right to revoke a touchdown based on unsportsmanlike conduct while the touchdown is being scored.. No doubt you've read -- and complained -- about this decision plenty already.
- The other change? Coaches will be allowed monitors in their coaching booths to watch a live broadcast of the game--and, to the point, determine if a replay challenge should be issued or not. As a result, we could see a slight uptick in the effectiveness of challenges in college football this coming season.