SEC rule changes: Coaches who argue on field, players who run and leap risk penalty

Steve Shaw, the SEC's coordinator of officials, took the podium on Tuesday at SEC Media Days for his annual address to inform and educate writers and fans on the latest developments and emphasis points for officiating in the season to come. 

One of the four "national points of emphasis" introduced by Shaw was a check on coaches via a new rule that could end up playing a huge part in the outcome of a game this fall. 

In an effort to control coaches' sideline behavior, officials now have the power to issue an immediate 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct if a coach enters the field of play "to question, protest or otherwise demonstrate disagreement with an officiating decision." 

"That will be a pretty big change, but I think our hope is our coaches adjust, and it becomes a nonissue," Shaw said. "We still have a sideline warning if they're crowding the sideline or the team is out of the team area. We still have a sideline warning. It's a warning, a 5-yard, a 5-yard then a 15-yard penalty. 

"This other you can go to immediately if they come out to protest an officiating decision, but we still have the other warning process."

Watching a coach charge after an official has always made for interesting theater, but now they will be subject to the same sort of rules that college basketball coaches have with the coaches box. And just like basketball's technical fouls for coaches, two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties will lead to disqualification from the game. 

There are some exceptions, Shaw said, like a coach being "invited" on to the field for a meeting with officials; however, without said invitation, they will run the risk of severely penalizing their team. 

There's also a change to the rules about leaping and hurdling on extra points and field goal tries. No longer can you run forward and jump over the offensive line to block a kick. You can, if possible, explode from within one yard of the line of scrimmage, but no more running starts. 

"Now, the exception to that is if you're in a stationary position within one yard of the line of scrimmage, then it's legal," Shaw said. "Then you can jump. Now, it doesn't mean you can't run forward. You can go through a gap. You can do whatever, but you just can't leap or hurdle."

That means this incredible hurdle and block from Vanderbilt linebacker Zach Cunningham against Auburn last year is no longer fair game, though it still made for a great highlight. 

CBS Sports Writer

Chip Patterson has spent his young career covering college sports from the Old North State. He's been writing and talking about football and basketball for CBS Sports since 2010. You may have heard him... Full Bio

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