With the start of the college football season last week, the National Football Foundation (NFF) and College Hall of Fame noted a few key rule changes that will take effect during the 2020 college football season.
Since 2011, the NFF has partnered with the College Football Officiating (CFO), led by Steve Shaw and chaired by Mid-American Conference Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher, to help generate awareness for the rule changes in college football. The CFO functions as the national professional organization for all football officials who work games at the collegiate level, and the organization held its annual winter meeting of conference coordinators for football officials in late January for the eighth consecutive year at the NFF headquarters in Irving, Texas.
Shaw, who became the CFO National Coordinator of Football Officials in March, previously served the Southeastern Conference and Sun Belt Conference as coordinator of officials. He also serves as the Secretary-Rules Editor of the NCAA Football Rules Committee, a position critical to the development of competition rules and policies. Shaw excelled as a head referee for 15 years in the Southeastern Conference, earning 14 postseason assignments, including two national championship games. He has been a leader in revamping the sport’s officiating mechanics and advancing the use of technology to assist officials.
“These changes were contemplated before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, so subsequently the Rules Committee has made three additional changes to address the current medical environment,” Shaw said.
No more than two team members may be assigned or wear the same jersey number. There were no limits to duplicate numbers in previous seasons. With the recognized popularity of the single digit numbers, the digit “0” is added as a legal number. Any number to be preceded by “0” such as “07” or “00” remains illegal.
In regards to targeting, the change for 2020 is that now a player disqualified for targeting will be declared ineligible for further participation in the game, but the player may remain in the team area.
All other disqualifying fouls such as fighting, two unsportsmanlike conduct fouls, flagrant personal fouls, etc. will be reclassified as fouls requiring ejection. Players ejected will be required to leave the playing enclosure and must remain out of view of the field of play under team supervision.
The Rules Committee addressed issues of unsportsmanlike behavior in the pregame and took steps to clean this action up. The officials’ jurisdiction will now begin at 90 minutes before kickoff (previously 60 minutes). Additionally, when any squad member enters the playing enclosure prior to the game, the head coach or an assistant coach from that team must be present on the field. Furthermore, when any squad member is present within the playing enclosure after the officials’ jurisdiction, they must be wearing their jersey or have their numeral readily visible. Players without their numeral readily visible must leave the playing enclosure.
If the clock expires at the end of a half, and replay determines that there was time remaining on the clock, and the clock would start on the referee’s signal after review, there must be at least three seconds remaining when the ball should have been declared dead to restore time to the clock. With two seconds or one second remaining on the clock, the half is over. This change will not impact situations when the clock is stopped and will remain stopped until the snap such as incomplete passes and runners out of bounds. In addition, the expectation is that the Instant Replay Official will not exceed two minutes to complete any review. The exception is, if the review has end of game impact or has multiple aspects as a part of the review, it should be completed efficiently but will have no stated time limit.