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NCAA Approves Rule Changes For 2012 Football Season

The NCAA has announced today that its Playing Rules Oversight Panel has approved a number of changes to the football rulebook for the upcoming season.  The goal of the changes — more player safety:


1.  Kickoffs will move from the 30-yard line to the 35.  Expect more touchbacks and fewer returns.

2.  Players on the kick coverage units cannot line up more than five yards off the ball.  This prevents them from getting a longer, running start which should lessen the impact of some collisions.

3.  Touchbacks on free kicks — ie: kickoffs — will bring the ball out to the 25-yard line rather than to the 20.  Again, the goal is to encourage more touchbacks and less returns.  Punts and other plays that go into the end zone — ie: fumbles through the end zone — will still be brought out to the 20.

4.  If a player loses his helmet, it will be treated as an injury and the player must leave the field of play for one play.  Expect to see more players buckle their chin straps in 2012.  (In case you’re wondering, this rule does not apply if an opponent rips or “facemasks” a player’s helmet off.)

5.  Offensive players in the tackle box at the snap of the ball who are not in motion will be allowed to block below the waist legally and without restriction.  However, all other players are restricted from blocking below the waist with only a few exceptions (such as straight-ahead blocks).

6.  Players will be prohibited from jumping over blockers in an attempt to block a punt.


The changes come about after NCAA studies showed that more injuries occur during kick returns than during other parts of the game… and that more than two players per game lost their helmets during 2011 contests.

We at have no problems with rules designed to make the game safer.  Most fans who do complain about such rules don’t have sons on kick coverage units.

The only rule that will take some getting used to from our perspective is the kickoff touchback being brought out to the 25-yard line.  We likely won’t be the only ones.  Get ready for a lot of, “Why’d our punt touchback just come out to the 20 when their kickoff touchback came to the 25″ calls on talk radio.


Walter G McGoose
Walter G McGoose

John, with regard to number 5, has the chop block been made legal inside the tackle box?  Can you explain this?  This particular rule change will lead to more injuries, not less.


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