July 24, 2012 - by
ACC Officials Coordinator Addresses Rule Changes

July 24, 2012

GREENSBORO, N.C. — There are several important rule updates in college football for the 2012 season and Atlantic Coast Conference coordinator of football officials Doug Rhoads met with the media during the league’s annual kickoff event to share information on some of those alterations.

Brandon Mellor
Brandon Mellor
Seminoles.com Senior Writer
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Seminoles.com was in attendance when Rhoads discussed the updated rule book with members of the Seminole IMG Sports Network and other credentialed media. Here are some of the highlights of the conversation:

Kickoffs have been moved to up to 35 yard-line with touchbacks coming out to the 25 yard-line. A touchback that occurs on a punt, turnover in the endzone, etc. will still go out to the 20-yard line.

Rhoads said that there are two important pieces to the kickoff changes:

1. All members of the kicking team — except the kicker — have to be within five yards of the kickoff line of scrimmage.

2. In the past, an onside-kick receiver could fair catch a ball booted straight up into the air but couldn’t do so if the ball bounced first. Now, if the ball hits the ground just once and sails up into the air in the same manner as a kick directly into the air off the tee, the receiver can call fair catch. If the ball bounces twice before popping up into the air, the receiver cannot call for a fair catch.

There is also a new and sure-to-be controversial rule regarding helmets falling off a player’s head. If a player’s (non ball-carrier) helmet comes off during live action, he must leave the game for one play on the following snap.

“Treat it just as if it was an injury,” Roades said. 

Twenty-five seconds are then put on the play clock before the next play. If a helmet’s player is removed because of a foul on the other team, the helmet-less player does not have to sit out one play.

The part of the rule that may draw ire from fans and even coaches pertains to a player’s actions after his helmet falls from his head, Rhoads said that the player must stop their in-play action but if said player continues to make football-related moves “beyond immediate action which he’s engaged,” he is subject to a personal-foul penalty.

To prevent players from losing helmets on purpose to preserve game-clock, the rule also states that 10 seconds will be run off the clock in the final minute for a lost helmet. Conceivably, a game could end on a lost helmet if there were 10 seconds or less left on the clock at the time of the incident.

Rhoads also discussed changes to the “halo rule.” Now if a defender gets in the area defined as the width of a punt-returner’s front-facing shoulders one yard out, he will be penalized for kick-catch interference. A defender can avoid this penalty and still be within one yard of the returner if he simply standing to either of the catcher’s sides when he fields the ball.

“Significant injuries last year” occurred from punt defenders launching themselves into the front of returners last year, Rhoads said.

Rhoads concluded his discussion with the media by explaining that a proper fair catch is deemed as being one that in which the returner waves exactly one hand side to side above their head. A player can still be struck after any other type of hand wave but the ball cannot be advanced.

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