The Rule That Ruined College Football

Submitted by Enjoy Life on November 22nd, 2009 at 12:41 PM

Prior to 1993 (this is the date the rule was changed in the NFL, not sure if NCAA changed the same year or a few years later), if a QB was under duress and threw the ball where there were no receivers in the area, IT WAS INTENTIONAL GROUNDING. Obviously this was a judgement call but so are a lot of other penalties (holding, pass interference, etc.)

The obvious reason was to allow the defense to get the benefits of a great play.

Then, the NFL decided it was an offensive league (pun probably intended), and put in the new rule that the QB can just throw the ball away as long as they are outside the tackle box and get it past the line of scrimmage.

This rule has ruined college football.

When the defense makes a mistake, there is no rule that allows them to recover. But, now when the defense makes a great play, it is often completely negated. Instead of a 10-15 yard loss, we just forget about it and bring it back to LOS.

In Saturday's game, Pryor messed up and failed to get the ball back to the LOS. So, penalty called and a great play by the D was maintained. The D then forced a punt. Imagine on that drive what might have occurred if Pryor had merely gotten the ball past the LOS. Second and 10 not second at 24!

I hate this rule!!



November 22nd, 2009 at 12:47 PM ^

I thought the rule change occurred later, and only applied to passes that were thrown out of bounds. I'm not sure it "ruined" CFB. I think it gives the QB a nice safety valve if he's being chased, and probably prevents scrambling QBs from getting big hits and injuries while they are running away.


November 22nd, 2009 at 1:07 PM ^

The NFL changed it to protect quarterbacks from the ferocious pass rushers the game had bred. College changed when the Purdue-style offenses got big. With QBs being so mobile in college today, I don't think the original purpose of the rule really exists so much.

The rule changes that have ruined football in my mind are the ones liberalizing use of the hands by offensive linemen, and the gradual erosion of enforcing the rules that are left. Exhibit A: Notre Dame holds everyone on every play. They know they'll only get called if it's egregious, and that the refs will never call it twice in a row even if it's obvious they're doing it intentionally.

Relaxing the holding rules have led to the proliferated passing games, which are entertaining but rely on unspoken cheating and turned the playing field against the defenses so the game is unbalanced. It's very difficult to play good pass defense without getting multiple flags for ticky-tack PI.

In the NFL, pass defense is a joke - it's hold on and hope the QB makes an unforced error, because the defense is not allowed to touch the receivers for all intents and purposes.


November 22nd, 2009 at 1:17 PM ^

The ironic thing about the NFL's pass interference rules is that it forces teams to defend the pass by getting a serious rush on the QB. There isn't a bona fide coverage option. So all the rules protecting the QB don't help at all. If you liberalized PI or removed the spot foul aspect of it, you'd actually be doing QBs a huge favor.


November 22nd, 2009 at 1:26 PM ^

Absolutely hate this college football rule. Why bother giving a team time-outs at that point since every team can easily go down the field in less than 2 minutes due to all of the clock stoppages

I also hate the replay at the discretion of the officials. I prefer the NFL rule where if the coach really feels a challenge is warranted, challenge the play and you can only due this twice. I hate how some plays get replayed, but others which should do not. Also, I thought the point was that offense could snap the ball quickly if they thought they got away with one. Now the officials hold up play until they make a decision about going to replay.

Both of these rules make college so choppy in my opinion


November 22nd, 2009 at 1:43 PM ^

I kind of like the fact that the clock stops on a first down, mainly because its work to our advantage quite often (especially for Henne). But of course it could go the other way, too.

The NFL replay system isn't perfect either though - the 4th down play by the Patriots should have been reviewed. Outcome might not have changed, but that's a huge play and should therefore be reviwed.


November 22nd, 2009 at 2:07 PM ^ college football stops the clock on a successful first down conversion.

I love it as much as I *hate* the two-minute warning, an anachronistic holdover from the days when the stadium clock and official clock were poorly synchronized. It builds some tension, but not nearly as much as the first down rule. I find some of the mutant rules that take effect after the two-minute warning pretty annoying.

I also don't care for the fact that the TV networks use the two-minute warning as the perfect opportunity to blast us with yet more commercials.

Steve in PA

November 22nd, 2009 at 9:43 PM ^

Some people love college football and will watch an NFL game. Others love NFL, but will watch college. I'm guessing you are more of a fan of NFL football which is fine. I am not and rarely watch Sunday football but reserve my Saturdays for NCAA FB.

It's not a matter of which one is better. It's all in personal preference.


November 22nd, 2009 at 1:38 PM ^

I don't think it ruined it, but it sure is a bad rule. But I think replay has also messed things up. They have to review every little thing and 50% of the time they don't get it right.


November 22nd, 2009 at 1:56 PM ^

Correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't the old intentional-grounding rules even more tilted in favor of QBs? IIRC, before the change was instituted, they didn't even have to get out of the tackle box before they threw it away.


November 22nd, 2009 at 2:26 PM ^

Maybe you are thinking of before there was a grounding rule at all, in which case it totally favored the QB. The intermediate rule was that the QB had to find a receiver in the area no matter where the QB was on the field, or the ball would be moved as if he had been sacked (since he was throwing it away to avoid the loss of yardage on the sack).

Enjoy Life

November 22nd, 2009 at 6:23 PM ^

The reason I have the intentional grounding rule is that the D only has the opportunity to make a few really good plays and a few really bad plays.

When the D makes a great play, it is negated. But, when the D makes a bad play -- screwed! It really hurts any team that allows the big play. Another reason that giving up a big play is so devastating.

A Case of Blue

November 22nd, 2009 at 11:17 PM ^

While we're talking penalties, does anyone else feel like ten yards for holding is excessive? I don't know why, but I've started to feel like it should be five. I'm not really knowledgeable about the origins of penalties, though, so maybe there's a great reason I'm unaware of.