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Rules review video: Kick catch interference, invalid fair catch signal, and penalty enforcements

National college officiating coordinator Steve Shaw explains some rulings from Week 8



2023 media video #9

National coordinator of football officials Steve Shaw posted his weekly video breaking down rules and interpretations from Week 8 of the college football season. Prior to going through plays, Shaw shared that total fouls per game are at 14.1, which is down 0.5 from last season. Offensive holding fouls are up slightly, while illegal blindside blocks, illegal blocks in the back, and defensive pass interference are down slightly. In addition, false starts are down significantly.

  • Kick catch interference. On a 4th down punt, the receiving team calls for a fair catch. The returner muffs the ball, and it is immediately grabbed out of the air by the kicking team. Upon further discussion, it was determined the receiver (who made a valid fair catch signal) was not given an unimpeded opportunity to catch the kick — which continues after the muff while the ball is in the air — so a flag was thrown.
  • Invalid fair catch signal. On another punt, the receiver points towards the kick with one hand and making a waving motion with his other hand. Even though the ball bounced in front of the receiver and the fair catch signal was not valid, the ball is still dead the moment the receiving team gains possession.
  • Penalty enforcement. A run to the left resulted in two flags being thrown. The first was a facemask that occurred while the runner was in bounds, and the second was a late hit when the runner was out of bounds. Because we have a live-ball foul and a dead-ball foul, both penalties can be enforced.
  • Equipment. Players are not allowed to wear equipment that could potentially injure other players, such as hard casts. Shaw explained the process of wearing something to protect an injury, and how the umpire has to approve the equipment before the player can play.
  • Out of bounds/illegal touching. A player who goes out of bounds on his own cannot be the first player to touch the ball. Even though the receiver re-established in bounds, it is still a foul for illegal touching. This is one of the few fouls that can be called during replay.
  • Unsportsmanlike conduct. After an interception resulting in a pile on the ground, the defensive player pulls an offensive player off the pile. This is penalized with an unsportsmanlike conduct foul after the play. During the celebration, the same defensive player aggressively charges an offensive player, leading to his second unsportsmanlike foul. He was ejected from the game and forced to leave the team area, while both 15 yard fouls (enforced half the distance to the goal) were enforced.

Josh Cohn is a college student at Rochester Institute of Technology studying software engineering and creative writing. As a child, Josh would often officiate games between his friends and classmates during recess.

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  1. Randel Hodge

    October 27, 2023 at 10:47 am

    Interestingly, the NCAA ignores rule 1-4-4d which mandates that a player’s pants must cover the knee pad and that the pants/knee pad must also cover the knees. The ignoring of this rule filters down to high school and youth football, which causes the enforcement of the rule to become a source of anger toward high school and youth football officials especially when we attempt to disallow players from participating if they don’t follow the rule. Either remove the rule or enforce it. The video this week (and every week) shows NCAA players with pants well above the knees and some are midway between the waist and knee area. FYI: I am a high school football official in Florida with 39 years experience.

  2. Anonymous

    October 30, 2023 at 8:02 pm

    First off the invalid fair catch is not even close to a fair catch wave. Pointing a finger with a circle motion is not a waving hand motion in any way or form. Just a bad call that caused a team to lose a game .

  3. Tim Bergo

    October 30, 2023 at 11:59 pm

    First off the supposed invalid fair catch signal is not reviewable. Even if it were invalid it was not called on the field and should not be called later from the booth.
    The review was to see if the runner had stepped out of bounds.
    Secondly, if waiving away your blockers from a punt that is going to bounce is Adair catch sign than no bounding punt should ever be allowed to be returned. Yet we see it nearly every week somewhere, if not in multiple games. This is a blatant f’ up by the officiating crew and replay office. They are now just defending themselves.
    Thirdly, DeJean’s arm or hand never was waving over his head. There are many clearer signals than his pointing players around that we have all seen that are allowed to continue into a return.

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