NCAA amends kickoff rule, allowing fair catch before 25-yard line

  • NCAA amends kickoff rule, allowing fair catch before 25-yard line

NCAA amends kickoff rule, allowing fair catch before 25-yard line

Major rule changes are coming to college football beginning immediately with the 2018 season. Back in 2012, the NCAA moved kickoffs from the 30-yard line to the 35 and made it so the football would be placed at the 25-yard line, rather than at the 20, on touchbacks.

It will be an interesting development to watch and learn how coaches and kickoff/return units re-adjust to this latest change early on in the season and as it progresses, especially when the return team features a dynamic and unsafe return man.

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel has approved a proposal whereby players who fair catch a kickoff inside their 25-yard line would be awarded a touchback.

Essentially, kick returners now have a 25-yard grace period for what amounts to a touchback.

Other notable rule changes approved Friday pertain to blocks below the waist and pace of play. Studies have shown that a disproportionate number of concussions and head injuries take place on kickoffs as opposed to other types of plays.

Following a touchdown, the play clock will be set to 40 seconds to speed up the ensuing extra-point or 2-point conversion attempt.

A 10-second runoff will occur when an instant replay overturns the ruling on the field with less than a minute remaining in either half when the correct call would have stopped the game clock.

The panel green-lighted the continuation of a collaborative instant replay program where officials involved in the replay office could be located outside of the stadium in a conference office.

Leaping rules on field goals and extra points will mirror those on punting plays. It is illegal to leap over the frame of the body of an opponent. Keep in mind, too, this is in addition to recent rule changes to kickoffs.

If there is an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty or personal foul by the defense on a field goal, the kicking team will have the option to have the penalty enforced on the ensuing kickoff.