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College football 2022 is changing- Read why

CFO and NFF join forces to highlight the improvements that will be made to the game in 2022, including additions to using fouls to target, fake injuries in addition to blocking beneath the waist. 

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In the 2022 football year, as college season draws near it’s time to call the National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame to announce the most significant rules changes that will go into effect this autumn. 

Since 2011 in 2011, the NFF has partnered in collaboration with College Football Officiating (CFO) which is headed by Steve Shaw and chaired by Mid-American Conference Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher, to help generate awareness about the rule changes in college football. The CFO is the national professional organization that represents all officials who work on collegiate football games and has hosted its annual winter gathering of conference coordinators for football officials within the NFF headquarters in Irving, Texas for ninth time in January. 

Shaw was appointed the CFO’s National Coordinator of football officials in the month of March 2020, has previously worked for in the Southeastern Conference and Sun Belt Conference as the official coordinator. He is also Secretary-Rules Editor for the NCAA Football Rules Committee, a position critical to the development of competition rules and guidelines. Shaw excelled as a head referee for 15 years in the SEC, earning 14 postseason assignments, including two national championship games. He was a pioneer in redefining the game’s refereeing mechanics as well as advancing the use of technology to assist officials. 

“The mission of the Rules Committee is to develop and evaluate rules changes that will enhance the sport, protect the image of the game, and enhance the student athlete’s health and safety,” said Shaw. “Player safety has been the highest priority of the committee over the last several years now resulting in important changes that have improved the game in terms of reducing injuries. In particular, this new Blocking Below the Waist rule as well as the other changes to the rules for 2022 will prove beneficial to the athletes, the players and fans.” 

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved the following football measures during their April meeting, and all these rule changes will take effect in the 2022 season. 

2022 Rules Changes 

Targeting Carryover Appeal Process

In games with instant replay, if a targeting foul occurs in the second half, the carryover penalty (of being unable to play for in the beginning of that player’s next game) is able to be appealed for further appeal. The procedure begins with a conference making a request to the NCAA national coordinator of officials and he will then review the video of the play. If it is obvious that a player was not correctly penalized for targeting, the call is rescinded and the player will be permitted to play the beginning of the game to come.

Deceptive Injury Timeout Investigation Process

To deal with teams who are granted an injury timeout based on fraudulent actions, the panel agreed to a reporting and investigation procedure. Conferences and schools will be able to report problematic situations to the national coordinator of officials. The coordinator will look over the situation and provide feedback to the conference for further action. Any penalties imposed will depend on either the offices of the conference, or the school concerned. 

The NCAA Football Rules Committee considered several in-game options to address this issue, such as changing the injury timeout rule in order to eliminate the injured player for more than one play. Currently, an injured player is required to sit out for a single game. This concept was debated at length but this committee had concerns with the potential for additional problems to be created and did not wish to encourage players to keep playing even if they are injured. 

The members of the committee discussed how the speed of play appears to be contributing to this issue. “We considered all options to address this issue, including allowing both teams an opportunity to substitute after a first down,” stated David Shaw, chair of the Football Rules Committee and coach at Stanford. “This is another step to consider in the future.”

Blocking Below the Waist

The panel voted in favor of a plan to enhance safety and to simplify the rules that govern blockage below waist. The proposal will allow blockage below waist only for linemen as well as stationary backs in the tackle box. Outside the tackle box on the field of scrimmage blocking below the waist will be prohibited. The analysis of the available NCAA information on injury monitoring shows an increasing decrease in knee injuries that coincides with recent rules changes in this area.

Other Rule Changes 
If a ball carrier simulates a feet-first slide, officials will declare the runner down in that area. 

Defensive holding will remain as a 10-yard penalty, but will always result in an automatic first down. 

The replay official will deal with any adjustments to the clock or status only if a ruling is reversed with less than two minutes remaining in the 2nd or 4th quarter. 

Illegal Touching by an originally ineligible player is penalized five yards from the previous spot , and now also includes the the loss of down.

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