As the 2022 college football season nears its first game on August 27, the National Football Foundation (NFF) and College Hall of Fame have announced key rule changes that will take effect this year.

“The mission of the Rules Committee is to develop and evaluate rules changes that will enhance the sport, protect the image of the game, and enhance the student athlete’s health and safety,” said Steve Shaw, College Football Officiating (CFO) National Coordinator of Football Officials. “Player safety has been the highest priority of the committee for many years now resulting in significant changes that have improved the game in terms of mitigating injuries. Specifically, the new Blocking Below the Waist rule, and the other modifications to the rules for 2022 will be a benefit for the student-athletes, the fans and the game.”

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved the following football measures during their April meeting, and all rule changes will take effect in the 2022 season.

Targeting Carryover Appeal Process

In games that have instant replay, when a targeting foul occurs in the second half, the carryover penalty of sitting out the first half of that player’s next game will be eligible for further appeal. The process will begin with a conference submitting a request to the NCAA National Coordinator of Officials, who will review video of the play. If it is obvious that a player was incorrectly penalized for targeting, the call will be overturned and the player will be cleared to play in the first half of the next game.

Deceptive Injury Timeout Investigation Process

To address teams that are given an injury timeout through deceptive means, panel members approved a reporting and investigation process. Schools and conferences can report questionable scenarios to the National Coordinator of Officials, who will review and give feedback to the conference for further action. Any penalties levied would be up to the discretion of the conference office or school involved.

Blocking Below the Waist

The panel approved a proposal to improve safety and simplify the rules concerning blocking below the waist. The proposal allows blocking below the waist only by linemen and stationary backs inside the tackle box. Blocking below the waist outside the tackle box on scrimmage plays will be prohibited. An analysis NCAA injury surveillance data indicates a decreasing knee injury trend that coincides with recent rules changes in this area.

Other rule changes include:

•         If a ball carrier simulates a feet-first slide, officials will declare the runner down at that spot.

•         Defensive holding will remain a 10-yard penalty but will always carry an automatic first down.

•         The replay official will address any clock adjustments and status only when a ruling is overturned with less than two minutes in the second or fourth quarter.

•         Illegal Touching by an originally ineligible player is penalized five yards from the previous spot and now includes loss of down.

•         Addition of Signal 28 for Illegal Blindside Block: