The kickoff rule that was most likely to be approved, has been approved. On Friday, the NCAA Football Rules Oversight Panel approved a rule that will allow for kick returners to call for a fair catch inside the 25-yard line and allow the team to begin an offensive series at the 25-yard line.
Essentially, kick returners now have a 25-yard grace period for what amounts to a touchback. If the ball goes in the end zone, the offensive series will begin at the 25-yard line, unless the returner chooses to return the ball (in which case the ball is spotted where the returner is marked down with the ball). But now, a returner may wave an arm for a fair catch anywhere between the goal line and 25-yard line and down the ball immediately, only to have the offense start at the 25-yard line.
The rule is the latest attempt to ensure the safety of players on kickoff returns, which tend to be among the most violent plays in the game. It was just one of the rules approved by the rules oversight panel.
In addition to the kickoff rule change, the Football Rules Oversight Panel approved rules regarding blocking below the waist in an effort to make it easier for players, coaches, and officials to understand and execute the rule clearly. In particular, offenses will not be allowed to block below the waist when a block occurs more than five yards past the line of scrimmage. All blocks must also come from the front, except by interior linemen.
Of course, pace of play remains an issue the NCAA continues to address. Oen approved rule will run a 40-second play clock for extra points and two-point conversion attempts after a touchdown is scored. The play clock will also be set quicker after a kickoff to keep things flowing as well. On top of that, a 10-second runoff of the game clock will be instituted following an instant replay being overturned when the game is inside one minute of either half if the correct ruling would not have stopped the clock.
For more on the rule changes, you can read the NCAA’s release about the latest adjustments.