As it does every year, college football will tweak itself to improve the on-field product for 2017. This year’s proposals by the NCAA Football Rules Committee focused on player safety. 

Specifically, three changes are being proposed. 

  1. Players will be penalized for running towards the line of scrimmage and leaping/hurdling offensive linemen on field goal attempts and PATs. While this is essentially already a no-no, the clarification is that the hurdling player doesn’t have to land on an opposing player to be penalized. 
  2. Knee pads and pants must cover the knees (this is currently only a “strong recommendation”). 
  3. Horse collar tackles now include the nameplate area of a jersey. 

However, there will be no change to the targeting rule. Last month, there was some chatter that players should be ejected for targeting only if the call on the field was confirmed. As it stands now, a player can be ejected if the call of targeting on the field stands (i.e. can’t be overturned). With player safety still being such a high priority, the rules committee apparently didn’t want to appear as though it was softening on the issue.   

Additionally, there are two “Points of emphasis” from the committee that focus on game length. However, these are directed towards “sideline management” rather than playing rules adjustments. They are... 

  1. Coaches taking to the field to protest a call will be penalized. 
  2. The second half will start immediately after the halftime clock hits zero. Additionally, the game clock will wind consistently after the ball has been spotted when a player runs out of bounds.

These proposals remains subject to approval by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel.