After years of being treated to Walt Anderson, today we were introduced to Greg Burks, the new Big 12 coordinator of football officials. Burks, who was the referee for the very first College Football Playoff title game, was a Big 12 official from 1996-2014 and took on this role in June. Burks also administers CFO West, which includes officials from the Big 12, Mountain West, and Southland conferences.
Burks went through the rule changes for 2018:
There will be a new focus on equipment, with players being required to meet uniform requirements or miss plays until the problem has been rectified. (Coaches can call a timeout to prevent this, but that won’t happen often.) Knees must now be fully covered by knee pads, and the knee pads must be completely covered by the pants. Also, jerseys must reach down into the pant and t-shirts worn under the jersey must match the color of the jersey or be tucked in.
There are various other branding rules which Burks shot through rather quickly, as well as radio communication rules.
New clock rules are in place to hurry things along, including a 40-second play clock on point-after attempts which starts immediately after the touchdown. The same applies after any free kick.
Players may now take a fair catch on a kickoff inside the 25 and have the ball placed at the 25 to begin the series of downs.
Teams no longer have to attempt a field goal on a touchdown which scored after time expired, period. This means that a team can avoid the chance of a kick return if they take a one- or two-point lead.
There are some new and complicated rules regarding blocking below the waist. Linemen within the tackle box may still do so, from any direction, as long as the ball is still within the tackle box. Everyone else may only block below the waist if the player being blocked is facing the blocking player, within the clock-defined “10-2” zone.
Below the waist blocking also may now only occur within five yards of the neutral zone, Crackbacks are illegal from receivers and men in motion, and one the ball is out of the neutral zone nobody may block below the waist facing toward their own end line.
Leaping to block kicks has been clarified and cleaned up. As long as the player is leaping vertically, it’s all good. A player cannot leap into the plane of the blocker (i.e., over the blocker).
On defensive penalties which occur on field goals or point-after attempts, teams may now keep points on the board and enforce the penalty on the kickoff.
If the clock is stopped for a replay within the final minute of a half, and the result of the replay is a change which would not have resulted in a clock stoppage, the clock will be reset to the time the play would have ended, and then 10 seconds will be run off.
The collaborative replay rule which was being used by the Big 12 and other conferences is now universal. The Big 12 is also implementing screens on the sideline for referees to use during replay, so that they can announce the result without sounding like idiots. As Burks noted, often the referee is announcing the result without having personally seen the play in question.
Targeting remains unchanged. Commence cheering or rioting, as you see fit.