Fair Catch Rule

Submitted by WojoRisin on November 13th, 2010 at 3:58 PM

I've seen this called incorrectly in several games in the past week, and it's something that really bothered me today when Michigan was flagged for delay of game after advancing a punt. According to the NCAA rulebook (http://www.ncaapublications.com/productdownloads/FR09.pdf) Rule 2-7 article 2 states:

"A valid signal is a signal given by a player of Team B who has obviously signaled his intention by extending one hand only clearly above his head and waving that hand from side to side of his body more than once."

Using a signal similar to an incomplete pass is quite common, and by definition is legal. This is pretty cut and dry, I'm not sure why multiple officiating crews struggle with it.

/end rant.



November 13th, 2010 at 4:04 PM ^

Gallon's hand never went anywhere close to above his head, which is what's required for a fair catch. Just poor officiating .

In instances like that where the officials obviously couldn't see exactly what he did, they either need to let it go or use replay. Don't call a penalty just because "it looked funny."

kevin holt

November 13th, 2010 at 4:05 PM ^

and if it was a fair catch, he seemed to begin advancing the ball because purdue players were bearing down on him, not giving him fair room to catch it before they started to pursue him. seemed like a violation by them, not us, but that may be homerism.

Question though, if it WAS a fair catch, is advancing the ball an automatic delay of game? Because that doesn't seem like that big of a deal if they just blow the whistle, players run the ball a few yards after a whistle all the time.


November 13th, 2010 at 4:05 PM ^

It seemed like a very late penalty caused by eveeryone on Purdue's sideline going crazy and the refs noticing Gallon did something with his hand.  A bad call, but thankfully of little consequence with respect to the winners.


November 13th, 2010 at 4:15 PM ^

The same thing happened in the UConn-Pitt game the other night, when the UConn punt returner waved his arms to the side and then bolted for another 25 yards.  Of course, the officials got it wrong again then too and called him for delay of game.  Bad calls all around.

Patent Pending

November 13th, 2010 at 4:35 PM ^

Sorry guys, but the call was correct. Rule 2-7(3) states that ANY waving signal that is not a valid signal (definition provided by the OP) is an invalid signal.

Our punt returner clearly made a "waving signal", ostensibly to warn away our blockers from the ball.

"No Team B player shall carry a caught or recovered ball more than two steps in any direction after a valid or invalid fair catch signal by any Team B player.
PENALTY—Dead-ball foul. Five yards from the succeeding spot." Rule 6-5(2)


November 13th, 2010 at 7:15 PM ^

So what does an "invalid signal" mean if you still can't advance it?  It sounds like that rule means that any waving signal is essentially a fair catch signal.  Is the defense allowed to tackle you on an invalid signal?

Isaac Newton

November 13th, 2010 at 4:41 PM ^

There's this rule; 6-5-3:


Team A’s scrimmage kick is rolling beyond the neutral zone when B17 alerts his teammates to stay away from the ball by a “get away” signal at his waist or below. RULING: Invalid signal. The ball is dead by rule when either team recovers.

If they used this, then Gallon's attempt to return the kick probably is fairly called delay of game.


Seems a little contradictory to the rule pointed out by the OP, but I'm sure that's not the only inconsistency in the NCAA rule book.


November 13th, 2010 at 4:49 PM ^

I thought he didn't want anyone to touch it at first so he gave a "wave it off" sign, then he realized he did want to field it and try to run, so he did? I don't think he was even trying to signal fair catch...

I don't know, I'll have to watch the play again.


November 13th, 2010 at 8:59 PM ^

As usual the officiating was incompetent on many of the calls.  The facemask on Stonum was complete horse crap, and he was arm barred before the ball got there.  Molk gets called for holding on a textbook pancake, and did I mention I lose 5 years of my life everytime I have to listen to what the B10 network passes off as commentators.


November 14th, 2010 at 1:07 AM ^

So if it was a fair catch, why wasn't the played whistled dead? And did the Purdue players pursue him if they really thought it was a valid signal? But it just shows the joke of big ten officials.