HOOVER, Ala. (WIAT) — Steve Shaw, Coordinator of Officials, kicked off Day 2 of SEC Media Days. Shaw, who is now in year three of being the Coordinator for all SEC officials, started the morning off with a little humor, “Yesterday, the commissioner had primetime billing, I guess I’m opposite Johnny Manziel, so we’ll see how that goes.“
But his statement turned serious quickly as he began to break down the new rules being implemented in the SEC this year.
The NCAA has adopted a two-year cycle for all rule changes. This year is an “on-year” meaning rule changes will go into place this season.
The biggest rule change for the 2013 football season is the targeting rule. “This rule change is probably the most significant rule change in my tenure ever.” “The foul itself hasn’t changed” says Shaw, any above the shoulder hit on a defenseless player is still a foul.
“Everybody says helmet-to-helmet, but elbow, anything above the shoulders, or uses the crown or top of the helmet to deliver a blow, that’s a targeting foul.”
Players called for targeting now face an automatic disqualification, much like the fighting rule. The use of instant replay to evaluate the ejection portion of the penalty is now possible too.
The definition of a defenseless player has changed as well. The previous rules are still in place, the passer, kicker, receiver over the middle, and a player completely removed from the play are still listed. But now the definition is expanding to include more for punters and quarterbacks. Punters have always been deemed defenseless during their punting motion, but now they are considered defenseless for the rest of the down.
The same goes for quarterbacks after an interception, “Doesn’t mean he can’t be hit,” says Shaw “He can be blocked, he just can’t be hit above the shoulders.”
The part though that has caught everyone’s attention is the disqualification part of the rule that mimics the fighting rule. If a player gets ejected in the first half they are disqualified for the second half of the game. If the player is ejected in the second half of a game, they will be disqualified for the first half of the next game.“Playing time is a motivator to our players, and we think this will have a pretty significant impact.”
Other changes include a completely redefined blocking below the waist, a 10 second runoff for injured players at the end of the half and game, expanded unsportsmanlike conduct definition, kick plays, uniform numbering, replays, and more.
A few rules of note include using a timeout for a player who loses their helmet. Before, if a player lost their helmet during a play, they had to sit out the next play, now teams can use a timeout to get them back in.
There is also now a minimum time to spike the ball and stop the clock. “If there’s three or more seconds left on the clock, they’re allowed to spike the ball. If they do it properly, they could have time left for a last play. But if the clock reads two seconds or one second, then there’s time for only one play. So most likely you wouldn’t want that one play to be spiking the ball.”
There are a few more minor rule changes that Shaw believes most fans won’t notice.
Shaw ended his time by talking about how important good officiating is, “Bottom line, our conference demands that we’re as good as our teams. A big challenge, but we’re excited about the season.”
SEC Officials begin Fall camp next week.