FIDDLE, FIDDLE: PROPOSED NEW RULES

The NCAA Football Rules Committee, you breathe in vain. Air's supposed to be moving smoothly into the lungs, transitioning between the alveoli and the blood, and thus traveling to important football organs like the muscles, heart, and lastly the brain. We say 'lastly, the brain', since the continual tinkering of the Rules Committee has resulted in a yearly series of dadaist proclamations and naked attempts to give fans less football and make officiating more, not less difficult. This is either brainless, disingenuous, or both. Given our pessimistic nature, we suspect both.


A proclamation! I need to make a proclamation!

The press release even has a Luntzian lilt to it: "NCAA Football Rules Committee Proposes Rules to Enhance Student-Athlete Safety and Encourage Consistent Pace of Play." This means that the actual priority is shortening the game, since it's mentioned second and not first. We hate the name of this memo: "Annual Plan for Enhancing the People's Grain Production and Spreading Cooperative Cooperation To All Bulgarians" would have been a better one, which in Commie-speak meant "Eat a diet of hot rat, peasants: it's time to buy some dachas." We hate euphemisms: just say you want to make the game more manageable for television, and we'll only be mostly enraged, as opposed to prodded by bullshit into a pissshitting, nail-spitting rage.

So what exactly have they proposed? We rate each proposal with the universally understood internet ratings of FAIL, Meh, and WINNAR. All rules phrasing is lifted directly from the proposal. To our surprise, we only FAIL one of these, but it's a big, big FAIL. As in, a whole shipment of FAIL.

Additionally, after a year of consideration, the committee proposed a 40/25 second play clock system to encourage a consistent pace of play.

Rating: FAIL

So we'll be more like the NFL! And there will be fewer plays! YAYYYYYYYYY. The reverse curse of replay has been the buggering around with clock rules, a task the committee botched the first time like a brain surgeon asked to perform an operation wearing oven mitts. This time, it's moving the play clock to 40 seconds from 25, a move "some" coaches favored because of the differing amount of time officials from different conferences used in moving the chains.

Why this isn't a simple officiating issue we'll never know: perhaps it's easier to just make a harebrained rule than adequately train officials and tell them to move faster. Why you need to change the entire playcalling scheme and, as Steve Spurrier suspects, favor the no-huddle over more deliberate offenses, well, that's beyond us. We'd just outfit officials with shock collars and lay on the juice whenever they were slow with the chains. If you think we're joking, we're not: it would be a better idea to train officials with high voltage pain modification than change the clock rules. It's carving time out of carnival season for college football fans, and any shortening of the party is something we oppose violently (We mean this, too: we will fight any of you for charity if these rules go through. Bareknuckle backyard Miami-style, if necessary.)

P.S. REVISION: On review, this is even worse than you might think, as SMQ points out. This is an odious rule, people will hate it, and it will fail as its predecessor did.

This is a much greater hit than 3-2-5-e, which eventually cost about 16 plays and five points per game from 2005-06. The impact under the new, completely unnecessary change will probably be double that.

Michael Clark is the committee head. Here's his email address: mclark@bridgewater.edu. Oh, and here's his office number: 540-828-5406. Give him a call, write him and email, and tell him how hard this rule sucks, and will suck until it fails and is revoked next year.

Go get 'em, internet vigilantes.

The committee has proposed adjusted wording to curb the incidences of dangerous helmet-related contact. In this change, the committee is giving game officials better guidance to penalize these hits.

Rating: WINNAR.

The ghost in the machine on any of these is how they're enforced, but watch any rugby game and you'll see perfect examples of form tackling without leading with the head. If you want to see kids compress their spines and use the allegedly protective helmet as a weapon on the field, you go right ahead. As cool as the hit was, watching Reggie Brown face down on the turf was the first time we ever thought getting overly sensitive to helmet-to-helmet hits was a good idea, since we thought Brown was dead after getting speared by Junior Rosegreen. It's bad tackling, one; two, it's dangerous as electrified hell. That's how people end up wearing diapers and eating applesauce.

You can do enough damage with the shoulder. Trust us. We've seen it done.

The incidental five-yard face mask foul was removed. All face mask fouls (pulling, twisting or turning) will be a 15-yard penalty.

Rating: MEH.

Again, increases the margin of error for officiating: whereas officials at one point could make gradations for facemasks, even the touchiest of calls now will invoke 15 yarders. This will lead to some howling, abysmal mistakes by referees--we'd be your child's kidneys on it. (Hand 'em over! Those things are like red, fleshy gold in China!) The spirit's not misguided here, as it was obviously increased to punish deliberate facemasks, and thence lies the error: intent. Half of all refs will see that; the other half, being mediocre, undertrained, and busy people, will just see facemask and "DERRRR!!!! 15 YARDS FOR BAD TOUCHY!!!"

A proposal relating to the chop block rule clarifies this area and will assist in officials and coaches in the understanding of this foul.

Rating: WINNAR.

Glenn Dorsey says thank you, NCAA Football Rules Committee. Go ahead and call it the Auburn rule; fairly or not, they were caught twice on national television this year chop-blocking, once on the extremely large and unmistakably visible person of Glenn Dorsey. Making explicit exactly what constitutes a chop block actually does mitigate the dangers of blocking. If you would like a reminder of why this is necessary, perhaps you'd like to skip the perhaps debateable chop block on Dorsey and proceed to the grotesque shitballness of the chop block from the Peach Bowl against Clemson.

Any player will now be prohibited from grabbing the inside back collar of the shoulder pads or jersey, or the inside collar of the side of the shoulder pads or jersey, and immediately pulling the runner down.

Rating: MEH.

Again, as much controversy and half-assed enforcement will result from this as gains in safety. On Roy Williams seems to have turned this into a guaranteed danger on the field, and only then in the pros--we're stuck trying to remember a specific time when this technique caused an injury in the college ranks. Either way, any tackle from the back could be miscalled for a penalty now, again increasing the margin of error for a bad call by a referee. See how these are all going to make the refs an even larger part of the game, increasing the scrutiny by giving them an even larger set of variables to weave into mistakes? Along with replay, this makes referees an even bigger influence on the game. At least in baseball, umpires get to call ball or strike. In football, the crew has several different techniques to watch at once whiel people are moving full speed. This isn't making their job any easier.

In the rules relating to instant replay, plays where a fumble leads to an immediate recovery may be reviewed.

Rating: Winnar

A sensible change of a senseless rule. The WOO!master sends many WOO!s to you for this change, Rules committee.

In replay rules, a coach that challenges a play and is successful will retain the right to challenge one more time for a maximum of two.

Rating: Winnar.

A bit game show-y, but we like it. When do coaches get phone-a-friend for calls, or street shout-outs from the fans?

When a kickoff goes out of bounds, the receiving team may accept the ball at the 40-yard line instead of the 35.

Rating: Meh.

An attempt to offset reduced plays with better field position? An irrational craving for the only twenty yard penalty in football? We're confused why this is particularly necessary, but someone on the committee's got a real dislike of inferior kicking or something. Rage on, man, but this doesn't seem like big taters in this round of improvements.

A yardage penalty for sideline control was instituted.

Rating: WINNAR.

Probably a good idea. Why?

As with the chop-blocking rule, might as well call this the Mack Brown rule, since poor Chris Jessie wasn't the only one half onto the field at the Holiday Bowl.

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