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Rules review video: unusual fair-catch situation, new low-block rule, and a fumble into the pylon

2022 rules review video #1

College football national coordinator of football officials Steve Shaw released his first video of 2022 discussing some rules and interpretations for the benefit of fans and the media:

  • Shaw highlighted the statistics of targeting fouls, noting that there is one targeting foul in about 4.2 games on average.
  • A replay review of a runner short of the end zone showed the player remained in bounds, thanks to a shot from the pylon-mounted camera. The next act was that the ball was fumbled into the pylon, which is a touchback and a turnover of possession. Replay reversed the out-of-bounds call to a touchback.
  • On a kickoff, a player may make a fair catch inside the 25 yard line and the offense will start 1st & 10 at the 25. If a player makes a valid fair-catch signal, but a teammate catches the kick, it is still a dead ball and no return, but the offense will have 1st & 10 at the spot of the catch. Replay was able to review that both receivers gave valid fair catch signals, allowing the call on the field to be reversed.
  • A review of the ruling of defensive pass interference and whether a ball is catchable
  • A review of a new rule the NCAA instituted a foul for open-field low blocks, similar to what the NFL implemented last year.
  • A behind-the-scenes look at how replay is able to synchronize two angles in the review process.
  • The intercepting momentum rule is reviewed.

It is important to point out that these weekly tapes are not intended to just include controversial calls of the week and whether it was correct. Rather, Shaw’s videos will point out plays that have relevant rules discussion.

A review of the Florida State challenge

One key situation that was not covered was the replay review prior to the final play of the Louisiana State-Florida State game. On the play, LSU tight end Mason Taylor is ruled out of bounds with one second remaining. Florida State challenged that Taylor did not get out of bounds, and replay agreed.

However, the replay should not have happened. There is nothing to review, since the dead-ball spot is substantially the same for both out of bounds and down by contact (and it does not involve the first down line or the goal line). Therefore, the only thing that is being reviewed is the clock status (running or stopped), which is not a reviewable element. The reason that the status of the clock by itself is not reviewable, is because the stoppage winds up distorting the time for either ruling, and it makes any correction moot.

Had the call on the field been down-by-contact, the clock would have stopped momentarily for the first down. It restarts on the referee’s ready signal. However, in a clock-critical situation, no one wants to see the offense get rewarded with the clock stoppage only to have the game end with the ball on the ground. So, referees are instructed to allow the the offense the chance to get the snap in within a reasonable amount of time. With a replay intervention or not, LSU was going to get a snap in for the final play, because there wouldn’t be a race to beat the referee’s ready signal.

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Ben Austro
Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)

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