NCAA: No hurdling to block kicks; status quo for targeting

The NCAA rules committee said Friday it wants to make it illegal for defenders to hurdle linemen to block a kick and to expand what constitutes a horse-collar tackle. It decided against tinkering with the targeting rule to eliminate the ejection penalty for some of the fouls.

The rules committee also proposed requiring players to wear knee pads and pants that cover the knees. All proposals still need approval from the Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which meets April 19. If approved, the changes would go into effect next season. This is a non-rule change year for the NCAA, meaning changes can only be made for player safety issues.

There was discussion about changing the targeting rule to create two levels of the foul: one that would include player ejection and a loss of 15 yards and a new one that would only penalize 15 yards.

''We came to the conclusion our rule is doing what we wanted it to do and that's changing player behavior and that the work we did a year ago giving the replay official the opportunity to review the play in its totality is getting us to where we want to be in that rule, and felt that another year of experience with that same rule was the right direction to go to continue to put the emphasis on the fact that targeting is not something we want in the game,'' said South Dakota coach Bob Nielson, the chairman of the rules committee.

Last year, the rules committee expanded replay officials' role in targeting, allowing for a more thorough review and for officials in the booth to call fouls that were not called by on-field officials.

Hurdling linemen to block kicks became a trend last season as a way to get around a rule already on the books. The leaping foul is meant to keep players jumping to block a field-goal or extra-point attempt from landing on linemen. But defensive players can legally leap offensive linemen if they don't land on them. The proposal would make that a foul.

Expansion of the horse-collar tackle would make it a foul if a tackler drags a player down by grabbing the nameplate area on the back of a ball-carriers jersey. Currently, a horse-collar tackle is defined as a player grabbing inside the back of another players' jersey and shoulder pads.

The committee also said it endorsed a ''heightened focus'' on keeping coaches from coming onto the field to argue with officials.

Another point of emphasis for officials will be managing the game more stringently to address the increasing length in the amount of time it takes to play a game. Officials will be instructed to make sure halftime breaks did not surpass 20 minutes and that they wind the clock as soon as the ball is spotted after runner goes out of bounds.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP

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