The Maneater

No major rules shake-ups as officials coordinator speaks at SEC Media Days

A new incentive on fair catches and new details on blocks below the waist highlighted Steve Shaw’s address on Tuesday morning.

Welcome back to Atlanta, where day two of the week-long SEC media feeding frenzy is underway at the College Football Hall of Fame and Omni Hotel.

Steve Shaw, the league’s coordinator of football officials, opened up the day addressing rule changes being introduced to college football this season. The most impactful changes revolve around special teams.

“Now, if you have a kickoff, a free kick, so it can be a kick after a safety as well, but if you have a kickoff and the receiving team calls for and completes a fair catch behind their 25-yard line, the ball will belong to them on the 25,” Shaw said.

Incentivizing touchbacks has been an objective in rules changes in past years. The newest addition takes the idea a step further partially to limit blocking injuries on special teams plays, Shaw explained.

“It’ll be interesting to see how those things unfold,” Arkansas first-year coach Chad Morris said. “But special teams is nothing more than a mindset.”

There will also be a 40-second play clock after touchdowns and kickoffs.

Shaw addressed new rules related to blocking below the waist, using a clip of a Missouri block to demonstrate a type of block that is now illegal and a penalty five yards from the neutral zone.

“I recognize when we talk about this, everybody kind of zones out on blocking below the waist,” he said. “There's no change to the linemen that are what we call in the tackle box on the line of scrimmage. They can block below the waist from any direction. They can't clip, but from any direction. But now every other player must block from the front. They have to direct their block from the front. The reason for that being that the player can defend themselves if they see it coming and it's a safer block.”

Player safety is the priority behind most new rules, however small. One being introduced motivates players to keep their knee pads on, with consequences similar to that of the detached helmet rule. Any player whose knees are not covered by knee pads and pants is required to sit out a play or until they have revised their uniform to comply with dress code.

Other intricacies involving blocks below the waist and leaping were topics Shaw touched on, before ending on a new clock rule.

When a replay review in the last minute results in a ruling being reversed, a 10-second runoff will ensue from where the clock would’ve been running without a review.

Georgia, Ole Miss, Florida and Arkansas are the teams lined up to speak with media on Tuesday. Missouri’s time will be Wednesday afternoon.

Edited by Adam Cole l acole@themaneater.com

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