Ejection for targeting approved, will go into effect in 2013

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Let the uproar commence in earnest.

Last month, the the NCAA Football Rules Committee proposed that, in addition to a 15-yard penalty, any player flagged for targeting a defenseless player would be automatically ejected from the game.  Today, the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved the rule, effective for the 2013 season.

The penalty for targeting will thus be essentially the same as the one in place for fighting and/or throwing a punch.  If the penalty occurs in the first half of a game, the player will sit for the remainder of the contest.  If the penalty occurs in the second half or overtime of a game, however, the player will be forced to sit out the first half of his team’s next game.

One area of concern, though, is how exactly to define the targeting of a defenseless player and how different officiating crews may interpret the NCAA’s own definition.  In an attempt to alleviate some concern on that front, the oversight panel accepted the rules committee proposal that any targeting penalty be subject to immediate video review.  The release states that “[t]he replay official must have conclusive evidence that a player should not be ejected to overturn the call on the field,” which of course brings additional subjectivity into the mix.

A postgame review could also negate a suspension for the first half of the next game for a targeting penalty that occurs after the end of the first half.

As has been the case in the past, conferences will maintain the power to add additional punitive measures on a player flagged for targeting.

While the targeting proposal was approved, the so-called “Boise Rule” was not.  The rules committee had put forth a proposal that would have required teams to have either their jersey or pants contrast in color to the playing field — i.e., no blue uniforms on Boise State’s blue turf.    The panel cited “concerns that it did not enhance the image of the game” as voting down the uniform rule.

The panel also voted down a proposal that would’ve moved the down-and-distance markers to the other side of the field after halftime, which is yet another example of the power wielded by the Chain Gang Local 1089.

A handful of other proposals were, however, approved by the panel:

— To adjust the convoluted blocking-below-the-waist rule.  “In the past two years, the Football Rules Committee has adjusted rules governing these blocks in an attempt to reduce or remove potentially dangerous plays. But the changes have caused more confusion and inconsistency than intended. The new rule focuses on the block itself and will allow these blocks by stationary players in typical line play.”

— To add a 10-second runoff with less than a minute remaining in either half when the sole reason for the clock stoppage is because of injury.

— To establish three seconds as the minimum amount of time required to be on the game clock in order to spike the ball to stop the clock. If one or two seconds remain on the clock, there is only time for the offense to run one more play.

— To require a player that changes numbers during the game to report this to the referee, who will announce it.

— To preclude multiple players from the same team from wearing the same uniform number (for example, two quarterbacks on the same team are not allowed to have the same number).

— To allow the use of electronic communication by the on-field officiating crew (the practice was used successfully on an experimental basis by the Southeastern Conference). This is a permissive rule and not a requirement.

— To allow instant replay to adjust the clock at the end of each quarter. Previously, this provision was in place only for the end of each half.

— To clarify uniform rules as follows: “Jerseys must have clearly visible, permanent Arabic numerals measuring at least 8 and 10 inches in height front and back, respectively, and be of one solid color that itself is clearly in distinct contrast with the color of the jersey, irrespective of any border around the number.” This rule goes into effect for Football Bowl Subdivision teams in 2013. Football Championship Subdivision, Division II and Division III teams will have until 2014 before the rule becomes effective.

Arkansas State stadium expansion includes pair of waterfalls

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The college athletics’ arms race of the past few decades has produced a number of unique designs when it comes to various stadiums and other football-centric facilities. Just about everybody is trying to hang their hat on something new and different to set themselves apart from the crowd and that ethos is seemingly creeping into just about every design element in any new building across the country.

Arkansas State appears to be the latest program to go in this direction and, based on new renderings of a north end zone project for Centennial Bank Stadium that were released on Thursday, the school is perfectly content to ignore TLC’s advice and start chasing actual waterfalls.

“This project will allow us to attract the top students in the country and provide first-class services to develop our students on and off the playing surfaces,” athletic director Terry Mohajir said in a statement on the school’s website for the project. “Additionally, we’ve created a unique feature to pay homage to the great state of Arkansas, the Natural State.”

This is far from the only water feature to be incorporated into a stadium in recent years (Jacksonville’s EverBank Field — home to the annual Florida-Georgia game — has a pool after all) but is a little bit outside the box for a smaller FBS school’s stadium. The two waterfalls are set to be placed on either side of the north end zone grandstand and include a new outdoor premium seating area as well. Also included in the project are a new weight room, a training/rehabilitation area, new football locker room, position meeting rooms, a players’ lounge, academic rooms and team-theater meeting area.

No cost breakdown or timeline were given but safe to say the former will involve millions of dollars and the latter will result in several years passing before the water is flowing in Jonesboro.

Virginia stays in-house to fill coaching void

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Bronco Mendenhall didn’t have to look far to find someone to fill the hole on his Virginia coaching staff.

The football program announced in a press release that Mendenhall has promoted Vic So’oto (pictured, No. 37) to defensive line coach.  Last season, his first with the Cavaliers, So’oto, who played his college football for Mendenhall at BYU from 2005-10, served as a graduate assistant.

So’oto replaces Ruffin McNeill, who left Charlottesville earlier this month for a spot on Lincoln Riley‘s staff at Oklahoma.

“Vic was Ruffin’s understudy for the last year-and-a-half,” Mendenhall said in a statement. “He was my very first commitment at BYU when I became the head coach. He was a very good player for us and someone who has experience playing in the NFL.

“He’s very passionate. He is very knowledgeable about defensive football and our system. He knows the defensive line play in our system, inside and out. He’s a great teacher and fits perfectly and seamlessly into this position because he was taught and mentored by Ruff this past year. Our defensive front won’t miss a beat.”

Kerry Coombs adds assistant DC to Ohio State coaching responsibilities

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Heading into the 2017 season, Kerry Coombs will have an additional title on his coaching résumé.

Ohio State announced Thursday that Coombs has been promoted to assistant coordinator, defense, by Urban Meyer.  Coombs will retain his titles of special teams coordinator and cornerbacks coach as well.

Greg Schiano will remain in his role as defensive coordinator.

“Kerry Coombs is absolutely deserving of this promotion to assistant coordinator, defense,” the head coach said in a statement. “He is an outstanding coach, instructor and mentor to the young men in this program. He is one of the best recruiters in the nation. He is incredibly loyal, and we at Ohio State are very fortunate that he loves this school and loves being a Buckeye.”

Coombs will be entering his sixth season with the Buckeyes, one of two assistants, the other being wide receivers coach Zach Smith, who have been with Meyer all five of his seasons in Columbus.

The past two years, three of Coombs’ corners — Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley in 2017, Eli Apple in 2016 — have been selected in the first round of the NFL draft. Another, Bradley Roby, was taken in the first round of the 2014 draft.

Frank Kush, winningest coach in Arizona State history, dies at age 88

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The most famous head coach in the history of Arizona State athletics has passed.

The university confirmed Thursday that the legendary Frank Kush died earlier in the day of unknown causes.  He was 88 years old.

After finishing his collegiate playing career at Michigan State and a stint in the Army, Kush’s first job in coaching was as the line coach for the Sun Devils in 1955.  When Dan Devine left to become the head coach at Missouri in December of 1957, Kush was promoted to head coach.

Kush spent the next 21½ years as the head coach at ASU, leading the Sun Devils to a 176-54-1 mark that included seven Western Athletic Conference championships.  The wins are the most in the football program’s history; in fact, he’s the only coach in the school’s history who has accumulated more than 60 wins during his time in Tempe.

From 1969-73, Kush’s ASU squads won five straight WAC titles.  They lost just six games total in that span against 51 wins.  In 1975, they went a 12-0, capping off the second perfect season under Kush with a win over Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl.

In part because of Kush’s on-field success with the Sun Devils, ASU began play in the then-Pac-12 conference in 1978.

Kush’s tenure at the school ended in controversy, however, as he was fired in the middle of the 1979 season after a player accused the coach of mental and physical abuse in a September lawsuit.  The coach was ultimately fired because the university accused him of hindering the investigation into the allegations.