1. Banned Wedge Kickoffs
THE RULE: When the team receiving a kickoff has more than two players standing within two yards of one another, shoulder to shoulder, it will be assessed a 15-yard penalty—even if there is no contact between the teams.
THE REASON: A 2007 study showed that 20 percent of injuries during kickoffs were concussions.
EXPLANATION: When receiving a kickoff, teams tend to coalesce their blockers into a tight wedge. The way to break through such blocking is to send one of the tacklers into the wedge like a missile and blow it up. Example here
You can see the violence involved in this play. In fact, the reason offenses can only have so many people in the backfield today is because the wedge and wedge-breaking were major sources of deaths in the early game.
The NFL banned wedge blocking last year. Now the NCAA has done it too.
IMPACT: This is ultimately a win for kicking teams, since blocking caravans cannot form while the kick is in the air. It will probably prevent a head injury every three to five games. It's also probably a win for Michigan, since our speedier blockers are more likely to succeed without a wedge, our speedy returners are the least helped by wedge blocking, and most importantly, we are glad it is gone because we really suck at it:
YAY OR NAY: Big Yay. This was a decision made to protect the health of players. Fewer concussions = Sam McGuffie playing for Michigan rather than Rice = win. It wasn't delayed, but it was based on good science. It also looks to open up the kicking game a bit more, forcing the returner to run around a bit and hopefully dodge more guys in space, rather than fight through a tightly packed crowd every time. Plus, the way they defined it is pretty cut-and-dry: when the ball is in the air, you have to be two feet from your teammates. Good rule.
2. No more holding L2 on your way to the end zone
THE RULE: Live-ball penalties for taunting will be assessed from the spot of the foul and eliminate the score. Examples include players finishing touchdown runs by high-stepping into the end zone or pointing the ball toward an opponent.
THE REASON: Old men with objects in their rectums get to make rules. The explanation given is that it's because it's team game. Ask any offensive lineman if he minds if a skill position player jigs into the end-zone rather than coldly running in like a pre-2004 Madden avatar. He don't mind. This is about large, oblong objects in old ani, period.
EXPLANATION: If you taunt before making it to the end zone, and are penalized for it, the penalty will now be assessed as a live play. So let's say you are a receiver, and through your mad football skills you beat a cornerback deep, your QB gets you the ball, and now you have lots of green between yourself and the end zone. At this point you should IN NO WAY SHAPE OR FORM DO ANYTHING TO SUGGEST THAT YOU ARE HAPPY ABOUT THIS.
If you high-step, hold the ball out to a defender, pump the ball in your arms, or pull a DeSean Jackson:
The score is negated, AND you get a 15-yard penalty.
IMPACT ON MICHIGAN: Well, so long as we continue to deploy 18- to 22-year-old athletes who are excitable and love scoring touchdowns, their body language is likely to negate some touchdowns. They don't say so, but I highly, highly, highly doubt this penalty will ever get called on a (white) quarterback who is jumping up and down in ecstasy while his teammate runs in the pass -- this is geared at showboat receivers and running backs. I'm calling it now: we will get penalized for this, because we have young guys who can score long touchdowns and this makes them happy.
I don't know how tightly they plan to call it, but this might count:
YAY OR NAY:
Nay. With sauce. There is a heavy smell of racism in this. Good sportsmanship is something coaches can teach and kids can display to earn themselves and their programs more respect. But the NCAA negating plays on the football field because a 20-year-old got too excited after the result of the play had been for all intents and purposes determined: that smacks of grumpy old men trying to teach those kids a lesson in manners.
3. No more eye black messages
THE RULE: Bans the use of eye black containing symbols or messages
EXPLANATION: Hey, waitaminute, you can't use all the television cameras to say what you think or represent -- only WE can use all the television cameras to say what we think or represent.
IMPACT ON MICHIGAN: Dudes can't write stuff in eye black anymore (unless a shoe company pays the university top dollar for it). I assume duct tape over one's mouth is still cool.
YAY OR NAY:
This is the second rule that could have just gone with a Don't be DeSean Jackson approach. There are precious few guys who actually get national exposure for their eye-black. It's basically Heisman candidates, and the odd Mike Hart-type fella who so personifies his team that TV cameras zoom in on his face a lot. Most eye-black messages are the school logo. Others are usually hometown area codes, or dead or sick friends and relatives.
The committee also approved a rule that will require all coaches boxes to have television monitors beginning in the fall of 2011. This is a good idea. I think. Is it?