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Important Rule Changes for the 2022 College Football Season

IRVING, Texas (Aug. 18, 2022) – As the 2022 college football season nears, it is time for the National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame to highlight the key rule changes that will take effect this fall.

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 has held its annual winter meeting of conference coordinators for football officials at the NFF headquarters in Irving, Texas for ninth time this past January.

Shaw, who became the CFO National Coordinator of Football Officials in March 2020, 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 SEC, 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.

“The mission of the Rules Committee is to develop and evaluate rules changes that will enhance the sport, protect the image of the game, and enhance the student athlete’s health and safety,” said Shaw. “Player safety has been the highest priority of the committee for many years now resulting in significant changes that have improved the game in terms of mitigating injuries. Specifically, the new Blocking Below the Waist rule, and the other modifications to the rules for 2022 will be a benefit for the student-athletes, the fans and the game.”

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved the following football measures during their April meeting, and all these rule changes will take effect in the 2022 season.

2022 Rules Changes

Targeting Carryover Appeal Process

In games that have instant replay, when a targeting foul occurs in the second half, the carryover penalty (of sitting out the first half of that player's next game) will be eligible for further appeal. The process will begin with a conference submitting a request to the NCAA national coordinator of officials, who would review video of the play. If it is obvious that a player was incorrectly penalized for targeting, the call would be overturned, and the player would be cleared to play in the first half of the next game.

Deceptive Injury Timeout Investigation Process

To address teams that are awarded an injury timeout through deceptive actions, panel members approved a reporting and investigation process. Schools and conferences will be able to report questionable scenarios to the national coordinator of officials, who will review and provide feedback to the conference for further action. Any penalties levied would be up to the conference office or school involved.

The NCAA Football Rules Committee considered several in-game options to address this, including altering the injury timeout rule to remove the injured student-athlete for more than one play. Currently, an injured player is required to sit out one play. This concept was debated at length, but the committee was concerned with the additional issues that could be created and did not want to encourage players to continue to participate when injured.

Committee members discussed how the pace of play appears to be contributing to this concern. "We considered all options to address this issue, including allowing both teams an opportunity to substitute after a first down," said David Shaw, chair of the Football Rules Committee and coach at Stanford. "This is another step to consider in the future."

Blocking Below the Waist

The panel approved a proposal to improve safety and simplify the rules governing blocking below the waist. The proposal will allow blocking below the waist only by linemen and stationary backs inside the tackle box. Outside the tackle box on scrimmage plays, blocking below the waist will be prohibited. Analysis of available NCAA injury surveillance data indicates a decreasing knee injury trend that coincides with recent rules changes in this area.

Other Rule Changes

  • If a ball carrier simulates a feet-first slide, officials will declare the runner down at that spot.

  • Defensive holding will remain a 10-yard penalty but will always carry an automatic first down.

  • The replay official will address any clock adjustment and status only when a ruling is overturned with less than two minutes in the 2nd or 4th quarter.

  • Illegal Touching by an originally ineligible player is penalized five yards from the previous spot and now includes loss of down.

  • Addition of Signal 28 for Illegal Blindside Block:



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