Friday the NCAA decided against adding a new stipulation to the ineligible man downfield rule for the 2015 season.
On Friday, the NCAA decided not to change the current ineligible man downfield rule from the current three-yard rule to the one-yard rule which the NFL currently uses.
To avoid confusion this is not speaking about where offensive lineman or other players line up pre-snap, as the NFL rules committee will apparently look at this offseason, nor is it regarding “fat man touchdowns”.
In other words, offensive linemen will still be able to take a step back off the snap and be eligible for receiving a pass. That really only happens in meaningless bowl games anyway.
This rule is referring to offensive linemen being able to essentially run block in pass protection. By being allowed three yards of clearance beyond the line of scrimmage, offenses can really sell play-action passes.
Linebackers are generally taught to read the interior offensive linemen, and so by getting off the ball three yards, linebackers become certain the offense is running the football.
Of course the change in the rule would be useful for other reasons as well. If and when the rule is eventually changed (more on that possibility momentarily), it would likely help keep defensive linemen and linebackers from getting chopped at all the time by zone blocking schemes which call for offensive linemen to dive at defender’s knees.
Teams do this in pass protection just as much as in run blocking, and it is quite effective. But the NCAA should be concerned about player safety, especially player’s knees and ankles.
About 60 percent of Football Bowl Subdivision coaches were in favor of changing the rule, but that’s with only 65 votes. There are 128 FBS head coaches.
In other words, just one coach north of 50 percent voted. The NCAA decided not to continue with the rule change because it did not feel the 65 coaches were necessarily representative of the other half of FBS coaches.
That said the NCAA was comfortable adding a few new rules, including one giving conferences and/or teams the option to employ eight referees during a game, calling unsportsmanlike penalties when players jump on a pile or pull players from it, and making players leaving the field for equipment malfunctions or uniform violations.
Note, the NCAA already has a rule similar to the last one for a helmet that comes off during play. In that case a player must leave the field for one play.
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