Weighing in on the rule changes

We touched on the issue briefly in Thursday's chat, but the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved three rules changes for college football. A quick review:

In 2010:

  • No wedge blocks on kickoffs, meaning no more than two players standing closer than two yards from each other. A 15-yard penalty will be assessed if they do, even if there is no contact.

  • No more messages on eye black.

In 2011:

  • Taunting in the field of play is a live-ball penalty, and if a player scores a touchdown, the points are erased and the ball is spotted 15 yards from the spot of the foul.

Obviously, the final rule change generated the most discussion, and Texas coach Mack Brown weighed in with a nice statement on Thursday that fell short of being overly critical of the rule change, while addressing the real concern. Said Brown in a release:

"I don't disagree with it, but I am worried about the consistency in how the rule is interpreted, especially when it can cost a team a touchdown. It can be looked at so differently by the various officiating groups around the country and a call would have such a major impact on games that in fairness, it's crucial that it is called the same way for everyone."

The idea, as stated by NCAA officials yesterday, is that the rule is reserved for only egregious examples, but Dave Parry, the NCAA's national coordinator of college football officiating, said yesterday this touchdown by Golden Tate (at the :35 mark) would have been flagged. That's hardly "teasing," as Parry called it.

He also said the penalty would be flagged "very rarely." To be fair, it's been flagged "never" as of right now, but I'll join Brown as a mild critic of the rule. Moves like Tate's happen far from "very rarely." Compare that to another example of a celebration that would be flagged: Quan Cosby's dive into the end zone to clinch the 2009 Fiesta Bowl.

While Tate's actions could be classified as mild "taunting," Cosby's are not. I can't imagine the reaction of fans if a core of that significance came off the board for a celebration as insignificant as Cosby's. And what about deciding whether or not a celebration came before or after a score? If it's close, do you go to a replay? How many eye rolls can we expect the first time that happens?

It's likely that after this week, discussion of the rule will go away. The first time it's flagged, especially if the flag is questionable, I'm sure we'll be right back here talking about it.

As for the eye black rule, it seems to eliminate a threat that wasn't really there. Tim Tebow and Reggie Bush aren't the only ones who did it. I don't recall anyone pushing real boundaries with it, and what about when people use it as a way to honor someone? Any chance for an exception to the rule?

A couple of examples that spring to mind are former Oklahoma State quarterback Zac Robinson's "Press On" after the death of his grandfather, and the Connecticut team honoring Jasper Howard with a "6" under one eye and "JH" under the other.

I understand wanting to prevent it from getting out of hand, but it seems a bit premature and unnecessary.