Friday the Rules Committee approved a rule that will allow receiving teams to fair catch a kickoff inside their own 25-yard line and have it result in a touchback placing the ball at the 25-yard line to start the drive.
The kickoff can be one of the more exciting plays in football, changing the game at any given moment.
"In discussions with the college football community, the committee's goal is to identify ways to keep the game moving and reducing as much as possible the down time in the stadium", said Steve Shaw, the SEC's head of officiating who also is the NCAA's secretary rules editor. Before the 2012 season, kickoffs were moved from the 30-yard line to the 35-yard line and touchbacks were moved up five yards to the 25-yard line.
The new fair catch rule is the most drastic change that will go into effect next season, but it's not the only one.
This new rule aims to reduce the number of high speed collisions by promoting more fair catches during kickoffs.
Other notable rule changes approved Friday pertain to blocks below the waist and pace of play. That same year, the starting position after touchbacks was changed from the 20-yard line to the 25. Other than those involving interior lineman, all blocks below the waist must be from the front. "All other aspects of the kickoff play will remain the same". The kickoff is one of the most unsafe plays in football.
Play clocks will be set at 40 seconds after touchdowns and following kickoffs to expedite succeeding plays.
Continued experimental collaborative decision-making model on instant replays.
-Leaping rules on field goals and extra points will closer resemble leaping rules on punts. For example, officials involved in the replay process could be located in a conference office.
Penalty enforcement on successful field goals will mirror extra points (i.e. the option to be enforced on ensuing kickoff). "It is illegal to leap over the frame of the body of an opponent".