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#pounditSaturday, May 8, 2021

Articles tagged: rule changes

NCAA makes key change to college football overtime rule

Mark Emmert

College football overtime will look a bit different starting in 2021.

In a set of rule changes announced Thursday by the NCAA, teams will now be required to attempt a two-point conversion following a touchdown starting in the second overtime period. Previously, this requirement kicked in at the third overtime.

In addition, the so-called two point conversion “shootout,” in which both teams will trade alternating two-point attempts, begins in the third overtime, a change from the fifth. Both changes are meant to try to reduce the chance of lengthy overtime periods.

While multi-overtime classics can be great viewing for fans, they’re also absolutely brutal for the players involved. Protecting players from physical issues has to be the main priority, and it’s just not feasible to ask them to play seven or eight full overtimes, hence these changes.

These two proposed NFL rule changes are likely to be adopted

Roger Goodell

NFL owners will vote on a series of proposed rule changes next week, and two of them appear to have a good chance of passing.

One significant rule change likely to pass is one that will allow for greater communication between referees and officials in New York, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. This would allow the officiating department in New York to advise on-field officials using video replay and provide help to correct a number of calls, including penalty enforcement. Pelissero added that the rule change has “strong support” among the league’s coaches.

The second rule that appears to have significant support is one that will ease restrictions on which positions are allowed to wear certain jersey numbers, which has also gained “strong support” among teams.

Pelissero notes that the proposal to allow teams to attempt a 4th-and-15 play instead of an onside kick is unlikely to be adopted.

The new communication rule for officials likely brings about the most significant change here. It’s not quite the same as the sky judge proposals of the past, but it seems likely to help referees going forward, and hopefully cut down on blatant missed calls.

Major change coming to NFL replay system in 2021?

Roger Goodell

The NFL is always looking for ways to improve the efficiency of its replay system, and another major change could be implemented for the 2021 season.

Peter King of NBC Sports reported in his weekly column on Monday that NFL owners will vote later this month on potentially giving in-stadium replay crews added power. The change would mean officials in the replay booth could intervene on catch/no-catch calls, down-by-contact calls and close sideline plays if they feel the call on the field may have been incorrect.

That sounds similar to college football, where replay officials in the booth have the ability to stop a game if they determine something needs to be reviewed. All reviews in the NFL also come from the booth when there is less than two minutes in a half, so it sounds like that could just be expanded to include the entire game.

Coaches would still have the ability to challenge plays, but expanding the power of in-stadium replay officials could certainly help. We have seen coaches potentially cost their teams games by botching challenge situations. One of the best examples was when Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy for some reason decided not to challenge this questionable catch last season.

The concern with expanded replay is always that it could potentially slow the game down, but getting the calls right is most important. Giving in-stadium replay officials more responsibility sounds like a good idea.

NFL entertaining interesting overtime rule change?

Roger Goodell

NFL teams have proposed a number of changes to the league’s overtime format over the past several years, and one of the latest has fans buzzing in a big way.

Mike Florio of Pro Football talk reported this week that the Baltimore Ravens have made two radical proposals to overtime procedures that are centered around the “spot and choose” idea. The premise is simple — one team gets to choose the spot of the ball to start overtime, and the other team decides whether they want to play offense or defense. The coin toss would give the winning team the right to choose whether they want to decide the spot of the ball or choose between offense and defense.

The Ravens actually made two proposals, but both involve the same OT format. One proposal calls for sudden-death, where the first team to score wins in what would be up to 10 minutes of OT. The other proposal has no sudden-death and 7:30 of OT. Both proposal state that games can end in ties.

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is in favor of the “spot and choose” idea and supports the proposal without sudden-death, according to Florio.

Obviously, the goal is to add more strategy to OT. Teams with strong defenses would probably opt to give their opponent the ball deep in the opponent’s territory. Teams with great offenses would probably take the ball, especially if the format is sudden-death. Other factors like weather and home-field advantage would also come into play.

The NFL has come a long way from an overtime format that was essentially determined by a coin toss. The “spot and choose” format would take the league even further away from that, which is why it should receive support. In order for it to pass, 23 teams would have to agree with the Ravens.

MLB making change to extra innings rules to avoid marathon games in 2020

Rob Manfred

Major League Baseball is hoping to avoid extremely long games in its abbreviated 60-game season, and that is why a new rule is being temporarily implemented for games that go into extra innings.

Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that MLB will adopt the minor league rule of beginning the 10th inning and beyond with a runner on second base, making it easier for teams to score runs. With a shortened spring training and only 60 games, the goal is to avoid having too many extra frames.

In addition, MLB will also be temporarily allowing a universal designated hitter. The DH will be removed from National League play again in 2021.

MLB and the MLB Players Association had previously been looking into some other extra innings changes for 2020, but it’s unclear if any of those will be implemented. Even if not, having a runner on second base is a good idea that should help move games along. Fans could end up liking it so much that the league makes it a permanent change.

Baseball has needed changes for years, especially ones that will shorten the length of games. A 60-game season will be an opportune time for MLB to experiment with fixing some things.

NFL owners table proposal for 4th-and-15 onside kick alternative

NFL owners were scheduled to vote this week on a proposal that could have provided an exciting alternative to the onside kick, but the rule is not going to be implemented this season.

The onside kick alternative would allow teams to attempt to keep possession of the ball after a score by converting a 4th-and-15 from their own 25-yard line rather than kicking off. Team owners have decided to table the idea rather than sending it to a vote, though NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reports that they did take an unofficial poll.

Support had reportedly been growing for the idea, so it is possible we could see it put into play in 2021. There were some questions over how many times teams would be able to attempt the 4th-and-15 play and some other details that needed to be sorted through, which is likely why the proposal was tabled.

As it stands, teams have almost no chance of recovering an on-side kick. The conversion rate was over 20 percent a few years back, but the NFL changed kickoff rules to make it so players on the kicking team cannot get a running start before the ball is kicked. The goal with that change is to avoid violent collisions, but it has also made recovering an on-side kick far more difficult. The success rate of on-side kicks has fallen to around 5 percent since the new rule was implemented.

The XFL had some unique kickoff rules during its brief return this year, and those may have helped inspire the NFL to explore changes of their own.

NFL could implement entertaining alternative to on-side kick

NFL teams are in the process of reviewing potential rule changes for the 2020 season, and one of them that is said to be gaining momentum is an alternative to the on-side kick.

As Tom Pelissero of NFL Network notes, the alternative would give teams the option of maintaining possession rather than kicking off if they can convert a 4th-and-15 from their own 25-yard line. A turnover on downs would obviously result in tremendous field position for the other team, but the play would almost certainly have a higher success rate than the on-side kick.

It’s not unusual for radical changes to be proposed in the offseason and tested during the preseason, and many of them fizzle out. However, Pelissero reports that the on-side kick alternative is actually getting some support.

As it stands, teams have almost no chance of recovering an on-side kick. The conversion rate was over 20 percent a few years back, but the NFL changed kickoff rules to make it so players on the kicking team cannot get a running start before the ball is kicked. The goal with that change is to avoid violent collisions, but it has also made recovering an on-side kick far more difficult. The success rate of on-side kicks has fallen to around 5 percent since the new rule was implemented.

The XFL had some unique kickoff rules during its brief return this year, and those may have helped inspire the NFL to explore changes of their own.

NFL officially doing away with pass interference replay review

Rams Saints pass interference

The NFL’s decision to make pass interference reviewable last season did not have much of a positive impact on the game, which is why it is not surprising that the concept is being scrapped going forward.

Rich McKay, the chairman of the NFL’s Competition Committee, confirmed in an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio on Thursday that there will be no video replay review for pass interference in 2020. He said the rule change is dying a “natural death” because no one even put it to a vote.

Overall, the ability of coaches to review pass interference calls and no-calls last season ended up being a sham. There were 101 such replays initiated either by coach’s challenges or booth reviews, and the call on the field was changed just 21 times. Referees consistently showed an unwillingness to change the call on the field, even when it was blatantly obvious that the wrong call was made or a call should have been made.

The NFL only decided to experiment with reviewing pass interference plays after one of the worst no-calls in football history cost the New Orleans Saints a trip to the Super Bowl. The rule change was a direct response to public pressure, but officials barely ever used it to correct themselves last season.

Report: NFL teams ‘strongly against’ keeping pass interference reviewable

Rams Saints pass interference

The NFL’s decision to make pass interference reviewable last season did not have much of a positive impact on the game, and it should surprise no one that the league may scrap the experiment in 2020.

NFL teams are strongly opposed to renewing the replay rule making pass interference reviewable, Mark Maske of The Washington Post reports. On the NFL Competition Committee’s annual offseason survey, a whopping 21 teams said they do not want to make the rule permanent.

Overall, the ability for coaches to review pass interference calls and no-calls last season ended up being a sham. There were 101 such replays initiated either by coach’s challenges or booth reviews, and the call on the field was changed just 21 times. Referees consistently showed an unwillingness to change the call on the field, even when it was blatantly obvious that the wrong call was made or a call should have been made.

The NFL only decided to experiment with reviewing pass interference plays after one of the worst no-calls in football history cost the New Orleans Saints a trip to the Super Bowl. The rule change was a direct response to public pressure, but officials barely ever used it to correct themselves last season. If those reviews are going to be handled similarly in 2020, there’s no point in having them.

NFL could make changes to coin toss after Dak Prescott confusion

Dak Prescott nearly made a costly mistake during the opening coin toss of last week’s game against the Los Angeles Rams, but the NFL did the right thing by stepping in to remedy the situation. Now, the league may take steps to prevent anything similar from happening in the future.

The NFL could simplify the rules regarding what players must say in order to defer after winning the coin toss, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports. As of now, a team captain must say the word “defer” when choosing whether his team wants to receive the opening kick or defer to the second half. Dak Prescott said “kick” last week initially, which almost resulted in the Rams being able to receive in both the first half and second half.

Audio shared by FOX showed that Prescott said the Cowboys wanted to “kick” at first before quickly correcting himself and saying they choose to defer. Referee Walt Anderson initially held Prescott to it, but the NFL stepped in at halftime and allowed Dallas to receive in the second half. Given what we saw with the audio FOX showed, that was clearly the right move.

There isn’t a single person who didn’t know what Prescott meant when he said “kick,” so it would be wise of the NFL to simplify the rules. No team should ever get the ball to start the first and second half just because a player used the wrong word when winning the coin toss.