ACC Rule Changes for 2009 Include Both Teams Wearing Dark Jerseys if Agreed To

by - Senior Writer -

Doug Rhoades, the ACC’s coordinator of officials, met with the media at Sunday’s ACC Football Kickoff in Greensboro, NC, and confirmed the rules changes for 2009 that were first mentioned two months ago.

Teams will no longer have to wear their white uniforms in games, as long as both teams agree to it and it is in writing, before the game, and the uniforms have sufficient contrast so as not to cause problems.

In the second game of the season, at Georgia Tech, the Tigers could ostensibly wear their orange or purple tops as long as Georgia Tech agrees to that beforehand. However, if Clemson were to host Virginia Tech, both teams could not their predominantly orange uniforms. Maryland could not wear their red against N.C. State if they were wearing red, etc.

It will be interesting to see how many coaches agree to this, or if Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney would allow the Florida St. Seminoles to wear their dark tops in Death Valley.

In the past, the visiting team, if they broke the uniform rule and wore their dark tops, would have to be assessed a 15-yard penalty at the beginning of each off, and the impetus for the rule change was brought about by the Southern Cal-UCLA game when both decided to wear their dark jerseys.

Another rule change for 2009 will be the definition of the tackle box, which will now be five yards from the center of the offensive line formation. Officials say this will help both the referee and the quarterback determine whether it's OK for the quarterback to throw the ball away or if it's intentional grounding.

The 40-second play clock that was instituted last season will still be in effect this season. ACC games were shortened by 12 minutes in 2008, and teams lost nine plays per game, or an average of one play per team per quarter.

In addition to the 15-yard facemask penalty, they have added that it's a 15-yard penalty if a player is tackled by his chinstrap.

Another idea that seemed to catch the fancy of coaches last season was the running rugby-style kick by punters. In 2009, once the punter gets outside of the tackle box, he no longer has the protection afforded to a punter, and is eligible to be tackled or hit with no penalty assessed to the receiving team.

Finally, it is no longer an illegal formation to have less than seven players on the line. As long as there are five players with jersey numbers 50-70 (offensive linemen), it's acceptable.

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