‘Dooley Rule’, two others changes approved by NCAA panel

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Two months after receiving recommendations from the NCAA Football Rules Committee, the Playing Rules Oversight Panel has approved three rules changes that will take effect in the 2011 season, with two of the new rules dealing directly with players safety.

As recommended in February, the biggest change will come from how below-the-waist blocking is defined and called.  Players on the line of scrimmage within seven yards of the center will still be permitted to block below the waist anywhere on the field as in the past, but anywhere else “cut blocking” will be illegal except on scrimmage plays in the following instances:

–Wide receivers more than seven yards from the center at the snap of the ball can block below the waist only against a player facing him or toward the nearest sideline.

–Running backs/receivers in the backfield and outside the tackle box (the area five yards on either side of the center) or players in motion can block below the waist only on players facing them or toward the nearest sideline.

As well as clarifying the new cut-block rules in an attempt to enhance player safety, the panel approved a change that will make it a five-yard penalty for three defensive players to line up shoulder-to-shoulder-to-shoulder over a single offensive player on field goal and extra point attempts.

And then there’s what’s lovingly becoming known as “The Dooley Rule”.

At the end of regulation of the December Music City Bowl, Tennessee was leading North Carolina when the Tar Heels committed a penalty with one second left in regulation.  That penalty actually benefited the confused Tar Heels immensely as it allowed them to get their field-goal unit on the field for the game-tying field goal attempt, which they made.  The Tar Heels ultimately won the bowl game in double overtime.

If such a situation would occur in a game in 2011 and beyond, a team like the Volunteers would have the option of a 10-second rundown of the game clock if a team commits a foul that stops the clock in the final minute of both halves.  Such an option would’ve given head coach Derek Dooley a win in his first bowl game with the Vols as there were under 10 seconds left in regulation.

Technically, the new “10-second runoff rule” — i.e. “The Dooley Rule” — would give the opposing team three options:

–Take the yardage penalty and the 10-second rundown.

–Take the yardage penalty without the 10-second rundown.

–Decline both the 10-second rundown and the penalty yardage.

In addition to the rule changes, the panel also made note of two rule changes that were approved last year but will not go into effect until 2011, including one that has the potential to stir up a tidal wave of controversy.

This will be the first year of the rule change regarding unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, which will be treated as either live-ball or dead-ball fouls. Previously, all fouls of this kind were treated as dead-ball fouls.

The change means, for example, that if a player makes a taunting gesture to an opponent on the way to scoring a touchdown, the flag would nullify the score and penalize the offending team 15 yards from the spot of the foul.

Penalties for dead-ball misconduct fouls (for example, unsportsmanlike behavior after the player crosses the goal line) continue to be assessed on the ensuing kickoff or the extra point/two point conversion attempt.

Another rule that goes into effect this season is video monitors being allowed in the coaches’ booth for the purpose of determining whether a team should request an instant-replay challenge. Only a live broadcast of the game will be allowed (that is, no editing/rewinding capabilities). If monitors are installed, the home team must provide the same equipment in both coaching booths.

Former LSU QB Brandon Harris announces commitment to UNC

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Former LSU quarterback Brandon Harris has found himself a new home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Harris announced via Facebook and Twitter he has chosen to commit to North Carolina.

“Obviously, it has been an important time for me, looking for a great situation and another opportunity to grow as a young man and as a student as well as a football player,” Harris said in his statement. “After my [official] visit this weekend to the University of North Carolina, I’m going to get that opportunity. With that being said, I’m fully committed to UNC this upcoming year and I look forward to the opportunity to play for coach [Larry Fedora] and UNC.”

Harris will be eligible to play for UNC immediately this fall after graduating from LSU this summer, and the timing may not be better for Harris. UNC is losing its starting quarterback (Mitch Trubisky) to the NFL and has a wide open spot to fill in the starting lineup as a result. But the job will not automatically go to Harris upon his arrival at UNC after missing out on spring practices at North Carolina.

Harris played in just four games last season, in which he passed for 139 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions. Since the season-opener against Wisconsin, Harris was reduced to backup duty and did not play in any of LSU’s seven final games of the 2016 season, including the bowl game against Louisville. Harris announced his decision to transfer in February, which was pretty much expected given how last season played out amid a coaching change.

Report: Foot injury puts Georgia WR Riley Ridley on sideline for spring

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Georgia wide receiver Riley Ridley has not been practicing this spring, but it has nothing to do with his offseason misdemeanor from a couple of weeks ago. Instead, a foot injury appears to have sidelined Ridley for the spring.

According to a report from Gridiron Now, Ridley has been out due to the foot injury. When the foot injury occurred is not reported. Even if his foot was not injured, it remains unknown if Ridley would be participating int he spring, at least at this point. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart has said Ridley will be internally disciplined for his misdemeanor pot possession from earlier this month.

“He’ll receive discipline,” Smart said. “We are very disappointed in his decision. We do not condone that behavior. I think Riley is going to learn a valuable lesson from this mistake.”

When Ridley may be available again remains unknown, as does what exactly the punishment to him will be from Smart. A one-game suspension is the expected result for Ridley according to the university’s student-athlete handbook.

USF DB Hassan Childs in stable condition after overnight shooting incident

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USF defensive back Hassan Childs was injured in a shooting incident overnight. Fortunately, Childs is currently said to be in stable condition, according to USF.

“We are deeply concerned that an incident occurred overnight in which one of our guys, Hassan Childs, was injured in a shooting,” a statement from USF head coach Charlie Strong said. “Thankfully, Hassan is in stable condition and being well cared for, and no one else was injured. There is an ongoing investigation of the incident and we are in the process of gathering further information.”

The shooting took place off campus, but details about the incident have not been reported.

Childs played in eight games for the Bulls last year. He recorded 16 tackles and returned two punts for three yards in a backup role.

Turner Field on schedule to be ready for Georgia State season opener

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The Atlanta Braves opened the doors to their brand new baseball stadium over the weekend to fans as the baseball team gets ready to open the 2017 season in their new digs. Meanwhile, at the old home of the Braves, Georgia State University is moving along according to schedule in downsizing and renovating Turner Field to serve as the permanent home of the football program. So far, so good, as the university fully anticipates the stadium will be ready to go for the season opener on August 31 against Tennessee State.

The job that’s being done is incredible,” Athletic Director Charlie Cobb told 11Alive. “Each and every time I walk in, I see something new being done.”

Renovation and construction at Turner Field got started in February. The entire project will be done in phases as the university plans to develop around thew football stadium for an expanding university. As far as the stadium goes, the seating capacity will be retrofitted to hold a capacity of 23,000 fans. That will be the first phase of the master plan, with a second phase to complete building the rest of the stadium and add additional seating for fans.

“We plan on doing some unique things capturing the history of the stadium, but also creating a football facility that speaks to Georgia State,” Cobb said. “One of the stories we want to tell is the fact that it went from being an Olympic venue, to the home of the Braves, and now to the home of Georgia State. I think we can write that third chapter.”

Georgia State previously played its home games in the Georgia Dome, the now former home of the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL. The Falcons are also moving into a new football stadium this season. The Falcons’ new home at Mercedes-Benz Stadium will also welcome some college football action to the stadium this season with the annual Chick-fil-A Kickoff will move to the new stadium from the Georgia Dome. This year’s Chick-fil-A Kickoff features Alabama and Florida State on September 2 and Georgia Tech and Tennessee on September 4. The SEC Championship Game and the Peach Bowl will also be hosted in the new stadium and the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship Game will be played there on January 8, 2018.

Georgia State may have their new home, but perhaps one day they will get to play in the new stadium too.