Teams that signal for a fair catch inside their own 25-yard line on kickoffs will now be awarded a touchback, according to rule changes announced Friday by the NCAA.
The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved the fair catch proposal as part of an effort to increase the number of touchbacks and limit injury risk on kickoffs. The change will go into effect for the 2018 season. Before the 2012 season, kickoffs were moved from the 30-yard line to the 35-yard line and touchbacks allowed teams to start possessions on their own 25-yard line rather than the 20.
The oversight panel also approved the prohibition of blocks below the waist by offensive players more than five yards from the line of scrimmage. Also, except when done by interior offensive linemen, such blocks must take place from the front side.
Other rule changes announced Friday include the 40-second play clock being used after touchdowns and after kickoffs to expedite play, and a 10-second runoff when instant replay overturns an on-field ruling when there is less than one minute remaining in each half.
The panel green-lighted the continuation of a collaborative instant replay program where officials involved in the replay office could be located outside of the stadium in a conference office. Most conferences have state-of-the-art television command centers where input on instant replay could be offered from a centralized location.
Friday’s announcement from the panel did not include any new rules or policies regarding targeting penalties, a major topic during the football rules committee’s meetings last month in Indianapolis.