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Five rule changes that could improve college football

These are rules that must be changed or clarified in this offseason.

Connecticut v Temple Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

College Football is, arguably, one of the best sports around. With constant action, great athleticism, teamwork, and passion for the alma mater it’s no wonder interest in college football has exploded in recent years. While it may be the best sport, we also know it is severely flawed. Some of these rules drive fans crazy, both at the collegiate and professional level. After what many saw last Sunday in the NFL, it is important that college football recognizes these flawed rules and improves or clarifies them going into this off-season.

Rule #1: Targeting

There should not be much argument with the change of this rule. The rule is not necessarily a bad one though. The safety of a player in an impact sport should be the biggest concern. A malicious hit should result in the ejection of a player. But as it stands now, the rule is entirely overused for reasons that do not warrant an ejection.

A hit that is against the rules, but is not vengefully derived should just result in a 15 yard penalty. As a result of the targeting penalty, the entire complexion of the game changes. The team that has a confirmed targeting call against them now has their player (usually a starter) kicked out of the game even if the illegal contact was inadvertent. The offense now has a chance to rip through the defense with a 2nd string reserve player in the game.

The last big reason it is flawed is simply the fact that it is not used in the NFL. Why would the college game adopt a rule that will not translate in the NFL? The solution to this problem is simple. Officials should reserve this call only for hits that look like they were meant to injure the opposing player. Otherwise non-intentional hits to the head/neck region or launches into defenseless receivers can just be an unnecessary roughness call for 15 yards.

Rule #2: Excessive Celebration

Tulsa fans know this one all too well. Yes, the coaches need to tell their players to stop showboating. That is what makes a team like Alabama different from others. Saban does not allow it to happen, at least not enough to cause the team to play undisciplined.

At the same time though, the rule is enforced too stringently and inconsistently. If a player makes a great move and wants to let the other team know, let him! Fans should want their players to be prideful and boast a little. The players should act like they have done this before, sure, but that passion is what fans should want to see out of their players.

The biggest issue with the rule is taking away touchdowns for celebrating after the score (like the Tulsa game). Instead of winning, and changing the course of their season, they lost and continued to spiral down. That one call changed the tide of Tulsa’s entire season. The rule should just be eliminated. Instead of excessive celebration, make it unsportsmanlike conduct and enforce the penalty on the kickoff. That way the team that completely went overboard celebrating still gets penalized with bad field position.

Rule #3: Catch Rule

Obviously, this one cannot be nixed as it is fundamental to the game. But there are a few things that can be modified about this ruling. The first is defining exactly what a catch is. Even if the call on the field is wrong, every replay official needs to know the specification of what a catch is and what it is not. It needs to be clearly defined in some way. If it is at the second the receivers has possession, or if it is one continuous motion without hitting the ground, it just needs to be more definitive.

If it is clear enough that every official (especially replay) know what the parameters of a catch is, then there would be no reason to miss a call. I feel that the real reason of why the catch rule is such a tough one for everyone is because the rule is not clearly defined. I do not have a clear solution for this other than all the officials coming together and defining to the teams what a catch actually is.

The other thing that I think might be worth changing is making a catch have both feet in-bounds. I am personally split 50-50 on this part of the rule change. On one hand, it makes the game more entertaining by allowing more points on the board. While many drives stall in the NFL because of this rule, scores continue to rise at the college level, thus making for a more entertaining game. On the other hand though, this rule would further prepare players for the NFL. This might be a reason for a trial year to see if it impacts the game.

Rule #4: Fumble in the endzone for a touchback

This has recently come up in discussion in the NFL. If an offensive player is trying to make a football move and fumbles the ball out of the endzone, they are not rewarded for their efforts. At the same time, how would we know if a defensive player would come up with the ball had there been 10 more feet for the ball to roll before falling out of bounds?

This is a tough ruling with very few solutions. The solutions either reward the offense for a fumble or continue to give the edge to the defense on the goal line depending on where a fan stands on the ruling. Officials could either give the ball to the offense at the one yard line and continue onto the next down like a normal stop at the one yard line. Or the ruling could stay the same, and continue to reward the defense for making a great play on the offensive ball carrier. There is no happy medium to for both teams.

Rule #5: 2 Minute Warning

This would be an interesting implementation. Not only would the players have to adjust, but the coaches would have to deal with more complex time management strategy too. This would act like another timeout for both teams, and could possibly generate more offense before the end of the half or the end of the game. With all the up-tempo offenses that are all the rage these days, everyone could use a little bit of a break.

The two minute warning would also be able to be of monetary benefit to the college game, as commercials could play during the period. Additionally, it would prepare players for the next level as it is currently implemented in the NFL. This rule is something I completely agree with adding. This rule would only benefit the college game.

Overall, these five rules should absolutely be looked at during the off-season. The addition/modification/subtraction of them could benefit our favorite sport as whole. Especially after this past week in the NFL, the college game should really look at shaking things up this off-season. Tell me what rule is the most important to change in the poll, or tell me in the comments below if you have a different rule not listed here!


What is the most important rule to change this off-season?

This poll is closed

  • 51%
    (53 votes)
  • 22%
    Excessive Celebration
    (23 votes)
  • 5%
    Catch Rule
    (6 votes)
  • 5%
    Fumble for a touchback
    (6 votes)
  • 13%
    2 minute warning
    (14 votes)
102 votes total Vote Now