NCAA rules panel recommends change to shorten overtime games

The NCAA Football Rules Committee on Friday recommended a slight change to overtime rules that would require a team to try a two-point conversion after a touchdown when a game reaches the second overtime instead of the third.

The committee also addressed the problem of teams faking injuries to slow an opponent’s momentum and blocking below the waist, among other areas.

Changes must be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which is scheduled to discuss football rules recommendations April 22.

The overtime recommendation was based on player safety and intended to reduce the number of plays it takes for a winner to be determined. National coordinator of officials Steve Shaw said overtime games add an average of 16.4 plays to a contest.

The new rule would have teams run alternating two-point plays in the third overtime instead of starting another drive at the opponent’s 25-yard line. Alternating two-point plays currently start in the fifth overtime.

Teams could still choose whether to kick the point after touchdown or run a two-point conversion play in the first overtime.

The committee has discussed the issue of faking injuries in recent years and now is proposing that a school or conference be allowed to ask Shaw for a postgame video review about questionable actions.

“Any time a player is injured, we want to honor that injury and make sure they get their full protection, but feigning injuries is an integrity issue and something we don’t want in the game,” Shaw said.

Still to be determined is what repercussions there would be if a player were found to have faked an injury.

The committee plans to review injury data for the 2021 season before deciding whether to recommend changes to rules regarding blocking below the waist. Members are looking at limiting blocking below the waist to inside the tackle box, which is the area spanning the length of the offensive line and extending from the line of scrimmage to the opponent’s goal line.

The committee supported the team area being permanently extended to the 20-yard lines. The team area now stretches between the 25-yard lines, but the area was expanded to the 15-yard lines in 2020 to create more social-distancing space because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The committee also listed three points of emphasis for 2021.

Officials will crack down on any taunting directed toward an opponent, Shaw said, because taunting reflects poorly on the game and can lead to unnecessary confrontations.

Officials will be on the look-out for uniform violations and will send the player out of the game to correct the issue. This will include specifically the pants, jerseys and T-shirts.

Also, coaches who enter the field of play or leave the team area to debate officiating decisions will be committing an automatic unsportsmanlike conduct foul.

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