Big 12 director of officials Walt Anderson began the day with his annual rules change overview. Oversize facemasks have been eliminated. All FBS conferences will now use eight on-field officials, affirming the Big 12's experiment. Sideline warnings are back in effect as well.
A major change, although one with very limited application, is that if on-field officials announce that roughing the kicker did not occur due to the ball being tipped, the replay booth can review and, if they determine the ball wasn't touched, overrule the lack of a penalty. Anderson also indicated that similar situations might occur with pass interference if the official announces the pass was tipped, and intentional grounding.
Instant replay will now also be expanded for onside kick rulings. The location at which the kick is first touched has always been reviewable, but the point of first contact between players has not been. Now, replay can determine if a block occurs before the kick has traveled ten yards or is touched by the receiving team, which is a penalty.
Targeting will remain an area of concern. Anderson noted that officials must speak to another on-field official before going to the referee on a targeting call. The idea is to have another offical, who saw the play from another angle, concur. This will explain delayed targeting calls. Anderson also explained that by rule, if the official has any question as to whether targeting has occurred, he must call the penalty. They may determine no targeting occured, and that's fine, but the flag must be thrown. Last year, Big 12 officials threw targeting flags eight times; half were reversed.
And now, the part you've all been waiting for: ineligible receivers downfield. The rule itself has not changed: linemen are still allowed to block three yards downfield. Anderson clarified that the threshold is when the ball is thrown, not when the ball is touched downfield. The challenge for officials on these plays is, simply put, attention. Anderson showed video of a play where an official incorrectly threw a flag because he saw a lineman five yards downfield, but replay showed he was only three yards downfield when the ball was thrown.
His presentation done, Anderson departed to the sound of applause... from only two media members.