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NCAA approves kickoff rule change, and other ways to speed up the game

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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.

Ole Miss transfer Breon Dixon confirms mutual parting with Nebraska

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Maybe the third time will be a charm for Breon Dixon?

First reported by Rivals.com, Dixon “will not be with the [Nebraska] program going forward.” Citing a source with knowledge of the situation, the Omaha World-Herald subsequently confirmed the initial report, writing that the linebacker “is off the team.”

Neither media outlet provided specifics as to the reason or reasons behind the apparent parting of ways.

Thus far, the football program has not yet addressed the reports, although the player did as he stated in a Twitter post that indicated a mutual parting of ways.

Dixon began his collegiate playing career at Ole Miss, but transferred to Nebraska in January of 2018 in the aftermath of NCAA sanctions levied on the SEC school.  Because of those sanctions, Dixon was granted immediate eligibility with the Cornhuskers.

After playing in four games this past season, Dixon, a four-star 2017 signee, was able to take advantage of the new redshirt rule that preserved a year of eligibility.

Georgia transfer Luke Ford denied waiver for immediate eligibility at Illinois by NCAA, will appeal

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If nothing else, the NCAA’s inconsistency is ridiculously and maddeningly consistent.

The dawning of a new morning yesterday brought word that Coastal Carolina transfer Brock Hoffman‘s appeal for immediate eligibility at Virginia Tech was denied because, one, Blacksburg is five miles outside of the NCAA-mandate 100-mile radius from the lineman’s home and, two, his mom’s health is improving two years removed from brain surgery that left her with myriad ongoing issues.  Fast-forward a few hours the same day and Luke Ford, a transfer from Georgia, took to Twitter to announce that his appeal for immediate eligibility at Illinois has been shot down by the NCAA as well.

The main reason for Ford, a native of Carterville, Ill., transferring to the Fighting Illini was so that the tight end could be closer to his ailing grandfather; a portion of the NCAA’s denial indicated that a grandparent is not part of the nuclear family as mandated by The Association’s bylaws.  Additionally, Ford’s home is nearly twice the distance allowed by the same governing body’s rules.

Ford will informally appeal the NCAA’s initial denial of a waiver before, if necessary, moving on to what would be a formal and final appeal.

“We’re all disappointed Luke Ford’s waiver request for immediate eligibility was denied,” a statement from the university began. “There is an appeal process that we intend to help Luke explore.”

The NCAA should be applauded for becoming much less restrictive when it comes to transfers and granting waivers of late to players whose sole motivation for a move was a better shot at immediate playing time (hello, Tate Martell and Justin Fields, for example); they can, though, do much, much, much better, especially as it pertains to cases such as Ford and Hoffman that involve nothing more than simple human decency.

Clemson confirms RB Tavien Feaster enters transfer database

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Clemson has, more than likely, seen its depth in a talented backfield take a hit.

With rumors swirling earlier in the day, Clemson confirmed Wednesday evening that Tavien Feaster has entered the NCAA transfer database and is looking to leave the Tigers.  The running back will graduate from the university in August and intends to “continue his college career somewhere else,” Dabo Swinney said in a portion of a statement released by the football program.

Feaster could always pull his name from the portal and remain with the Tigers, although that doesn’t seem likely at this point.

“We appreciate Tavien for everything he brought to Clemson University and our program and we wish him nothing but the best moving forward,” the head coach said in closing out his statement.

Feaster will apparently finish the Clemson portion of his playing career with 1,330 career rushing yards and 15 touchdowns on 222 carries, as well as 183 receiving yards and one touchdown on 23 receptions.  The Spartanburg, SC, native started 11 of the 41 games in which he appeared for the Tigers.

As a grad transfer, Feaster would be eligible to play immediately at another FBS school.  The upcoming season will be the back’s final year of eligibility.

Nick Saban back at work 48 hours after hip surgery, already putting walker and cane through ‘The Process’

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There’s no stopping Nick Saban. Certainly not a new hip.

The Alabama head coach, as some around the program no doubt expected, is not taking it easy at all after undergoing right hip replacement surgery on Monday. In fact, not 48 hours later he’s back in business at his office in Tuscaloosa.

Saban is supposed to spend the next 6-8 weeks recovering from the surgery but the 67-year-old does not appear to be sticking by that timetable for getting back to full strength.

“I had one day on the walker… Now I’m on the cane. I’ll probably throw that (SOB) away tomorrow,” Saban told TideSports.com. “I think in two weeks, I will be 100 percent.

“They won’t let me play golf for six weeks for some reason, but I am going to try and get that reduced.”

Ahh yes, even Saban’s rehab is getting put through the rigors of his famous ‘Process.’