GREENSBORO, N.C. - Three major rules changes to consider for the 2014 college football season, as outlined by ACC coordinator of officials Doug Rhoads and NCAA coordinator of officials Rogers Redding at the ACC Football Kickoff Monday morning:
When a targeting flag is reviewed on video replay, if it is overturned, not only is the flagged player reinstated to the game (as was the case last year), but the 15-yard penalty attached to targeting is erased as well. Common sense has been restored.
One caveat: any other penalties attached to the play -roughing the passer, pass interference, defensive holding, etc. - remain as called.
The enforcement of targeting calls hasn't really changed; the layman's term for what constitutes an illegal hit is one of two situations. Either the defender uses any part of his body to hit an offensive player above the shoulders, or the defender uses the crown of his helmet to hit any part of an offensive player's body.
Rhoads reiterated that launching is not illegal in a vacuum, but it could be used by officials to indicate targeting. Rhoads wants his officials to "digest" what they see on bang-bang plays before making a decision on whether to penalize.
"There's no such things as a late flag," Rhoads said.
In 2013, there were 92 ejections nationally for targeting, but 30 were overturned by video review. Rhoads said he saw his ACC official miss just six targeting flags last year.
"A lot of people - fans, media, coaches, players and officials - tried to get this thing right," Rhoads said.
Low hits on QBs
Welcome in the new age of quarterbacks' knees being protected. In the past, it's been a popular topic in NFL games, and now NCAA quarterbacks can draw flags for taking hits at or below the knee.
Here is how Rhoads termed the language of the rule, both from the passer's and the pass-rusher's perspective.
"A passer must have two things: he must be in a passing posture, and he must have one or both feet on the ground." Note: Rhoads specified a halfback or wide receiver throwing the football counts as a passer.
"The (defender's) contact must be knee or below, it must be forceful contact, he must be unabated going to the passer, and he can't have been pushed into the passer."
The new low-hit fouls are non-reveiewable. "Pure judgment," Rhoads said.
Rhoads guessed there were about 10 or so such hits in the ACC last year that would have counted as 15-yard low-hit penalties and an automatic first down.
An eighth official
Refereeing crews will grow from seven to eight, with an extra man called a "center judge," adopted from last year's Big XII experiment. He will help spot the ball, mark off penalties, and generally take responsibilities away from the referee (who sets up behind the offense) and the umpire (the defensive backfield.)
The center judge will line up just behind the offensive backfield, offset to the side. For teams with a left-handed quarterback, the referee (who always stands to the throwing arm's side) and center judge will swap positions.
Rhoads said the ACC coaches voted unanimously to go ahead with an eighth official in conference games.