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Proposed college football rule change for 2014 worth keeping an eye on

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An interesting rule proposal for the 2014 college football season could impact the way Kansas University and others defend the fast-paced offenses that have created havoc during recent seasons.

According to a report on the NCAA's official website, the proposed rule suggests that a five-yard delay-of-game penalty would be enforced any time an offense snaps the ball with 29 seconds or more showing on the play clock, with the exception of the final two minutes of each half. The idea is to allow defenses to substitute during the first 10 seconds of the 40-second play clock without offenses being able to hold them hostage with fast tempo and quick snaps.

Under the current rules, defensive players are not guaranteed an opportunity to substitute unless the offense substitutes first.

“This change is being made to enhance student-athlete safety by guaranteeing a small window for both teams to substitute,” said Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, who chairs the NCAA Football Rules Committee. “As the average number of plays per game has increased, this issue has been discussed with greater frequency by the committee in recent years and we felt like it was time to act in the interests of protecting our student-athletes.”

Although several offensive coaches around the country probably dislike the proposed change, defensive coaches are probably crossing their fingers in hopes that the new rule is adopted.

That's particularly true of defensive coordinators in the Big 12 who, almost weekly, are tasked with trying to find a way to slow down lightning-fast offenses that make their living spreading the field and snapping the ball as quickly as possible.

According to the report, “the committee believes that 10 seconds provides sufficient time for defensive player substitutions without inhibiting the ability of an offense to play at a fast pace. Research indicated that teams with fast-paced, no-huddle offenses rarely snap the ball with 30 seconds or more on the play clock. This rules proposal also aligns with a request from the Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports that sport rules committees review substitution rules in regards to player safety.”

In other rules news, the NCAA proposed an alteration to the instant-replay review on targeting rules first implemented last season.

According to the report, “the committee recommended that if the instant replay official rules that a disqualification should not have occurred, and if the targeting foul is not accompanied by another personal foul, the 15-yard penalty for targeting should not be enforced.”

KU had its share of run-ins with the targeting rule, as well, but the substitution tweak, should it be adopted, would have a much bigger impact on the Jayhawks.

All rules proposals must be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which will discuss the football rules changes March 6.

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