The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel on Thursday approved four college football rule changes that will go into effect at the start of the 2021 season. Chief among those rule changes is an adjustment to overtime that is sure to ruffle some feathers.
Teams will now be forced to go for a 2-point conversion starting in the second overtime period. If a game is still tied after the second overtime, teams will engaged in a 2-point conversion shootout, similar to how hockey games are decided with penalty shots.
This is the latest in a series of overtime tweaks have have taken place over the last two seasons. Rules adjusted last year forced teams into the 2-point conversion shootout starting with the fifth overtime. Teams were previously required to go for 2-point conversions following touchdowns starting in the third overtime period.
Overtime rules have come under scrutiny in recent years after several multi-overtime games put players in positions where they were more likely to be injured. The most notable among those came in the final game of the 2018 regular season when Texas A&M topped LSU 74-72 in seven overtimes.
The Playing Rules Oversight Panel also approved the permanent expansion of the team sideline area between the 20-yard lines. Team sidelines were set between each 25-yard line up until last year when they were expanded to each 15-yard line to accommodate for social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The panel also approved the framework of a plan first proposed by the Football Rules Committee regarding players faking injuries. Schools and conferences may now request a postgame video review from the NCAA secretary-rules editor and/or national coordinator of officials if it believes players faked injuries. The practice has become more common in recent years to slow down the pace of up-tempo offenses.
There will be new points of emphasis that officials will focus on this year, including taunting penalties, uniform violations and coaches who enter the field or exit the team area to debate calls.