The NCAA posted an article on their website in February announcing the Playing Rules Oversight Panel had approved a list of changes for college football.
Normally, the NCAA is only allowed to make rule changes for college sports every two years unless the suggested rules pertain to player safety. The upcoming 2012 season falls on an in-between year; therefore, the new rules have all been made in regards to player safety.
This season, Cougars will kickoff at the 35-yard line instead of the 30-yard line and will not be allowed to line up behind the 30-yard line. The NCAA hopes this action will lead to a shorter running start for the team kicking off. Head coach Tony Levine supports the new rules but feels as though they may limit some aspects of game play.
“Since they moved kickoffs up five yards from the 30 to the 35-yard line, you will see a significant increase in touch backs,” Levine said. “It eliminates, to an extent, a great kickoff returner like Tyron Carrier, who we’ve had for the last four years here, if your opponent has a kicker who can kick it in the end zone.”
One specific new rule regarding helmets has caused uproar among some Big 12 coaches, while Levine has already made this a standard with his team. The new rule will force players to stop playing if their helmet falls off at any time during the game, unless foul play is involved. Players are now expected to immediately put their helmets back on. Players who choose to chase the ball carrier or continue blocking without their helmet will warrant their team a 15-yard penalty.
“Football is a violent enough sport with a helmet on, so when a player loses a helmet, that’s risking major injuries,” said Levine. “We’ve always taken great precautions and care with our student athletes to make sure their helmets fit properly and all their padding fits properly.”
The Cougars were conscious of the rule changes this spring after Gerald Austin, head of officials for C-USA, came and met with the entire UH coaching staff for more than an hour and explained the rule changes. Later, Levine and his coaching staff presented the rule changes to his team. Since the spring, the Cougars have gone through 15 practices with the new changes and will continue these efforts in the fall.
“We have prided ourselves on knowing the rules and being smart for both teams,” Levine said. “I feel confident that our team will be able to know the rules inside and out, incorporate them and help the rule changes — help allow us to succeed.”