New rules changes could affect outcomes of games

by - Staff Writer -
When a player loses his helmet, he will have to come off the field
as if he were injured and sit out for one play.

SENECA- With just over six weeks until the 2012 season kicks off in the Georgia Dome, the Clemson Tigers need to tighten their chin straps.


The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel - the committee that oversees and implements the on the field rules - has implemented several rules in the offseason targeting player safety. The two most important changes involve player helmets and the kicking game.

Clemson head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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sat down with TigerNet at his annual media golf outing to discuss these changes.

“There are a few major ones [NCAA rule changes],” Swinney said. “Obviously, the one with the football helmet coming off- that’s going to be an interesting rule in that if your helmet comes off, you are out of play. I’m sure there is a protocol that you have to go through on the sideline to get back in the game. The other part of that is if your helmet comes off and you continue to play, it’s a penalty.”

“There’s also the kickoff rule [kickoffs will be from the 35-yard line] and we’ve already started working on that this spring. You are probably going to see a lot more touchbacks than we have. And then there’s going to be a little bit of a change to the halo rule around the fair catch. The onside kick has changed. If the ball hits one time and bounces way in the air, you can fair catch the onside kick now. They are trying to do away with that high kick that was creating a lot of collisions”

Through week seven of the 2011 season, 407 helmets had popped off during game play, and Swinney said some of this can be attributed to players seeking attention.

“There has been too much of that around college football,” he said. “Everybody has to properly secure your helmet. That’s why they came up with this rule because there have been too many helmets just popping off and ‘hey, look at me’. I think there has been some showmanship in that.”

Beginning this season, when a player loses his helmet, he will have to come off the field as if he were injured and sit out for one play. In addition to that, if a helmet comes off and the player continues to play, a 15-yard penalty will be assessed.

When the Tigers begin fall practice in two weeks, the practice officials will be charged with enforcing the new rules.

“We are going to have to do a great job in practice of enforcing those things,” he said. “Literally, if a guy’s helmet comes off, take him out of practice. They have to go out a play or you have to penalize him. If we are in a scrimmage situation and the running back’s helmet pops off and he continues to run, it’s a penalty. Or if the linebacker’s helmet pops off and the running back is breaking free and he continues to pursue, it’s a penalty. So those are some things that we will have to enforce out there with our officials and we have officials at practice and their job is to help us with those things.”

Practice is one thing, but translating that into actual game scenarios give the new rules changes some substance.

For that substance, let’s take a look at two hypothetical situations.

Hypothetical number one – Suppose it’s the Chick-fl-A Kickoff on September 1st and linebacker Stephone AnthonyStephone Anthony
So. Linebacker
#12 6-3, 235
Polkton, NC

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has had his helmet dislodged by an offensive lineman. Auburn running back Onterio McCallebb breaks into the open and is headed for a touchdown, so does Anthony just stop?

No, according to Swinney, who said that instead of trying to explain what happened to an angry mob of Clemson fans, that would be a time when he will just have to accept the penalty and live to play another down.

“Properly secure your helmet- number one,” he said. “But as far as a linebacker, these guys are trained to pursue and you just have to coach them to where if a helmet pops off in practice, you just have to stop or it’s a penalty. Now, you get into the area where he’s the last line of defense, what do you do? You are probably going to have to go tackle him and take the penalty. But that’s a hard thing to teach because it goes opposite of what they’ve been trained to do their whole lives.”

For number two, fast forward to September 22 - Clemson is down by six to FSU and has the ball on the 35-yard line with 32 seconds remaining in the game and no timeouts.

Quarterback Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
RS Jr. Quarterback
#10 6-1, 225
Hampton, VA

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takes the snap, steps into the pocket and Florida State defensive end Brandon Jenkins viciously hits him from the blind side, causing his helmet to fly off.

Referee Ron Cherry [yes, we went there] stops the play, ten seconds run off the clock and sophomore quarterback Cole StoudtCole Stoudt
So. Quarterback
#8 6-4, 200
Dublin, OH

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- who has been standing on the sideline for four quarters- must enter the game for the last play because Boyd has to sit out a play.

All hope hinges on a cold quarterback to lead the Tigers to a rare victory in Doak Campbell Stadium and a 4-0 start.

Even though football is a contact sport, Swinney hopes that the addition of the rule will reduce the number of helmets rolling on turf.

“You are always going to have a helmet pop off from time-to-time in a violent game like football, but it shouldn’t be as much as it has been over the last couple of years,” he said. “Hopefully, because the rule is going in place, people are going to secure their helmets better and there will be less of that.”

***TigerNet spoke with ACC Coordinator of Officials Doug Rhoads, who has held that position since 2007, at the ACC Football Kickoff in Greensboro, NC regarding the helmet rules change.

Rhoads said that the change came about because of a player safety concern after 2011 when ACC officials saw an average of 28 lost helmets every weekend and that the best way to enforce a helmet policy is by taking away playing time.

“I guess the best way to describe is that, first of all because it is a player safety issue, we have a lot of helmets come off,” Rhoads said. “We averaged two a game and that may not sound like a lot but if you have 14 games that weekend, that’s 28 so what the American Football Coaches Association and the NCAA wanted to do is what can we do- if it’s not the manufacture of the helmet, then it’s probably the player not buckling the helmet- so the only way to enforce it is playing time. The worst penalty for a player is to lose playing time. Practice stinks, but games are fun and you don’t want to have to miss time. So the coaches and the NCAA committee thought the way to emphasize that is to make it just like an injury.”

Rhoads explained that the rule applies to everyone on the field regardless of position.

“If the helmet comes off during play, at the end of that play you must leave the game for one play. It doesn’t matter if you are on offense or defense, a back or lineman,” he said. “If your helmet comes off during play, at the end of the play we blow the whistle just like if a player is injured he must go out. He goes out for one play. If a starting quarterback helmet comes off or a starting defensive lineman’s helmet comes off, we stop it just like a timeout. There’s no penalty involved in it.”

Rhoads said that even in 2011 play was stopped if a running back’s helmet popped off which will continue under the new rule; however, the change comes when the helmet comes off as a result of a foul.

“But here’s the issue, if it’s a running back and his helmet comes off we’ve always killed that play, so that’s no change, he said. “The real change comes in sending the guy out for one play and if the helmet comes off because of a foul, he doesn’t have to go. If you are an offensive lineman and I’m a defensive lineman and I hit you up in the helmet and it comes off because of the foul you don’t have to leave the game. If the helmet coming off is created by the foul, we will penalize that person and the player doesn’t have to come out. That’s the easy part.”

Rhodes described two important situations that need to be understood by coaches, players, officials, and fans.

“There are two nuances of it that are important to understand,” he said. “One is that if the helmet comes off in the last minute of the game and you have no timeouts left, we run ten seconds off the clock just like we did with fouls last year. Worst scenario is there are nine seconds left on the clock and big ol’ 68’s helmet comes off- unless that team has a timeout to buy the ten seconds off the clock, then the game is over because of the ten second runoff. That’s really an egregious thing to have happen. If they have a timeout, that’s no problem- he still has to leave the game but they can buy the runoff and the seconds don’t come off the clock. That’s true in all of those foul calls.”

“The second I think is the most difficult from an officiating standpoint is if a player’s helmet comes off for any reason- by foul or otherwise- he must stop immediately. He cannot continue to participate and if in the immediate action, we will give him a break but he still has to let up. If he continues to block or continues to pursue, it is a 15-yard personal foul. So, again I think of the worst possible thing that can happen. If an offensive lineman’s helmet comes off and he continues to block and the quarterback throws a 40-yard touchdown, we are going to bring it back and penalize them 15-yards for a personal foul because he continued to play.”

Rhoads said that the goal of the ACC officials is to apply the rules consistently and fairly, but there are judgment calls that have to be made when a helmet comes off that could determine the outcome of a game.

“I don’t pass judgment, but those are the rules and that’s the way we are going to enforce them,” he said. “Those are tough judgment calls for the official to have to say what is immediate- you block him once, you block him a second time well ok, you block him a third time, should he have stopped, I don’t know. Those two nuances bother me a little bit. We want to be right, we want to be fair, we want to be consistent and we want to do it within the spirit of the rules.”

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Subject (Replies: 72) Author
Front Page Story: New rules changes could affect outcomes of games
What?? They cant just BLOW THE PLAY DEAD if a helmet
so if an opposing player is running and about to score a TD
El Tigre 1
Why bother?
Because someone's baby boy might get hurt.
They aren't
Re: They aren't
Thats been the rule for years
But what the article, and Dabo's comments are alluding to is
I agree with you 100%, but only until you went off the deep
Care to elaborate?***
This is SO dumb.***
these are horrible's like they sit around trying
El Tigre 1
And I am going to write an email to the NCAA to let them
Fair catching an on-side kick !?!?!?! HOLY COW !!!!!***
I wonder how "really high in the air" will be measured***
all games will be indoors now
High enough to be able to call a legit fair catch, I guess.***
Not sure I know those units***
How many feet are there in a "high enough" ?***
Does the rule actually say anything about height?
According to article
You sure that isn't just conversational tone?
i think this covers the on side kick that is drilled into the
Has there been an onside kick that didn't bounce
Lord help the KO receiver that is trying to signal for a
Doesn't matter
Welll..if its up to Ron Cherry....
Re: I wonder how "really high in the air" will be measured***
At one time, if a helmet came off ONCE in a game it was ...
Re: At one time, if a helmet came off ONCE in a game it was ...
May just be a way to convince them to cut their hair
If you look at how the kids use the straps
That was at FSU about four years ago
Tiger TC®
Re: Front Page Story: New rules changes could affect outcomes of games
Just have the equipment guy trained to weld them on before
Re: Front Page Story: New rules changes could affect outcomes of games
Why not just do this...
^^^^^ This ... Frequently it's a RB or WR helmet popping off***
Re: ^^^^^ This ... Frequently it's a RB or WR helmet popping off***
That sounds reasonable.
Smiling Tiger®
Re: Why not just do this...
I think that would be a reasonable solution. That way
The problem with helmets popping of is a real one.
Smiling Tiger®
Looks like they believe it's mainly the player's fault.***
If so, then some kind of penalty is definitely in order.***
Smiling Tiger®
Wow... just wow
Why would a WR nowhere close to the play
Re: Why would a WR nowhere close to the play
Just wants to hit somebody? Well, that's noble.
Like someone said earlier...
Start out by calling the helmet to helmet contact.
Re: Front Page Story: New rules changes could affect outcomes of games
solution for helmets coming off
This helmet rule will screw somebody big sometime this year.***
It's actually quite simple.
Luckily I dont recall seeing Tajh's helmet......
Re: Luckily I dont recall seeing Tajh's helmet......
When an sec team loses an OOC game that cost them being in
In the FSU example though...
Re: In the FSU example though...
Re: In the FSU example though...
What about the increase of serious injury on a facemask?
Re: Front Page Story: New rules changes could affect outcomes of games
Properly fitting fully snapped helmets almost NEVER come off
Re: Properly fitting fully snapped helmets almost NEVER come off
Re: Properly fitting fully snapped helmets almost NEVER come off
this will cause more dirty play..i look for guys to try to.
Re: this will cause more dirty play..i look for guys to try to.
What's the change in the halo rule that Dabo
If a OL's heltmet comes off and he keeps blocking..
I have 2 concerns with the helmet rule
F*** Ron Cherry.***

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