NCAA committee to consider allowing replay officials to call fouls

The NCAA football rules committee will consider allowing replay officials to call targeting penalties that are missed by on-field officials.

The committee will take up the issue next week when it is scheduled to meet for three days, starting Tuesday, in Orlando, Florida.

Any changes to the targeting rule figure to draw the most attention from fans. The targeting rule was instituted in 2013 to decrease hits to the head and deter players from leading with their helmets. The penalty is 15 yards and the penalized player is ejected from the game. The ruling on the field is subject to video replay review and can be overturned.

The committee will consider giving replay officials more flexibility in how they review targeting penalties and allowing them to call fouls that are not called on the field.

The committee will again review the illegal man downfield penalty. The current rule penalizes the offense if linemen are more than 3 yards downfield from the line of scrimmage when a pass is thrown.

Last year, the committee proposed changing the limit to 1 yard, but the proposal was tabled. It can be a difficult rule to enforce, with one official responsible for tracking five linemen. Complaints from defensive coaches about uncalled violations of the rule have been on the rise in recent years as offenses try to take advantage by passing behind run-blocking linemen.

The committee will review ways to help officials enforce the rule more consistently.

The committee will also consider:

  • Making permanent an experimental rule that allowed medical observers in the press box last year with the ability to contact field officials and stop play if a player needs to be examined.

  • Whether to consider a ball carrier who slides or otherwise gives himself up to be a defenseless player, a move that could lead to more targeting calls.

  • Allowing teams to use tablets or computers on the sideline for coaching purposes. Currently, electronics that can be used for coaching and strategy are banned from the sideline.