The NFL is known to be slow and lumbering with its rule changes. The USFL has quickly responded to issues in the game by making its second in-season rule change.
Last week, Michigan Panthers head coach Jeff Fisher took a timeout following a touchdown, because he wanted to change his selected option for the conversion attempt. In the NFL, the offense may change between 1- and 2-point conversions if they take a timeout or after a penalty has been assessed. The USFL did not have such a rule.
Referee Bryan Banks did return the timeout to the Panthers, since there was a case of confusion over the rule.
Fisher submitted a proposal to the USFL to allow a coach to change his mind on the conversion attempt, and to use a timeout in order to do so. USFL head of officiating Mike Pereira — who he has said is the league’s “one-man Competition Committee” — has granted the requested rule change to take effect in Week 5, a mere 7 days from the original adverse ruling. Teams would be permitted to change their point-after conversion type via a charged timeout before the first attempt or after a defensive penalty. The offense is still locked into their original selected conversion attempt after an offensive penalty, and cannot use a timeout in that situation.
Pereira also announced a midseason rule change effective in Week 4 that changed the timing of the game clock. In the first and third quarters, the game clock now runs on incomplete passes.
Fisher, notably, was a member of the NFL’s Competition Committee for 16 years, serving as its co-chair for 9 seasons. Sean Payton could have only have wished to have a rule change that swift!