This morning, Steve Shaw, the SEC's coordinator of officials, broke down two big rule changes coming to college football this fall. First, the controversial targeting rule will get a re-write. Last season, a targeting call resulting in the automatic ejection of a player would go to the review booth. The ejection could be overturned by the booth official, but the 15-yard penalty -- legitimate or not -- had to stand. That will change in 2014. Now the booth official can overturn the penalty as well.
Despite the modification, Shaw feels the penalty did cut down on the number of dangerous hits in college football last year. "I see evidence of players lowering the target and sometimes pulling up on an unnecessary hit so they're not at risk for a targeting disqualification. The rule has done what we wanted it to do and we need to stay with it." Albeit with a change or two.
The verbiage of the rule has also been changed to "No player shall target and make forcible contact." The word "initiate" has been replaced altogether.
The other big change will better protect quarterbacks. Basically, defensive players can no longer intentionally hit passers below the knees when they're in a passing motion. This mimics the NFL's rule on quarterback hits. So, too, does this part: No defensive player can lunge or roll into a quarterback below the knees, either.
"People have said, 'Do you have a strike zone for quarterbacks?' And there really is. You hit them above the knee and below the neck."
One last note to be aware of, celebration fouls will be a point of emphasis across the NCAA this year. If a player's celebration looks to have been rehearsed or planned his team will be hit with a 15-yard penalty.