The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved six football rules changes on Tuesday, and one of them was most likely inspired by the 2019 Iron Bowl, specifically the final play of the first half.
Starting with the next college football season, when a play that ends the half gets reviewed and the review determines that time should be restored to the clock, there must be at least three seconds remaining to restore the time. Otherwise, the half will end, even if review determines there should be one or two seconds remaining.
This rule would have changed the course of the Iron Bowl. A 17-yard reception by JaTarvious Whitlow, which moved Auburn to the 34-yard line, would have ended the half, but a review determined Whitlow was downed with one second remaining. In the time the officiating crew reestablished the line of scrimmage, Auburn had time to assemble its field-goal unit and attempt a 52-yard field goal, which Anders Carlson made.
With this rule, the officials could not have put the additional second on the clock that Auburn used to kick the field goal.
The other action related to instant replay is a guideline as opposed to a rule change, giving replay officials the expectation to complete reviews in two minutes or fewer.
One rule change allows players ejected for targeting to stay on their sidelines, as opposed to spending the rest of the game in the locker room. In the short history of the targeting rule, players have generally been escorted to the locker room by a staff member after being ejected.
The Playing Rules Oversight Panel also limited players with duplicate numbers to two. Now only two players can wear the same number, and they must play different positions and not be on the field at the same time. To give teams more flexibility with roster numbers, and as the NCAA release put it, “to respond to the popularity of single-digit numbers,” the number 0 is now permissible as a jersey number.
Finally, game officials’ jurisdiction of games now begins 90 minutes before games, an increase from the previous 60. The proposal that led to the rule also called for a coach to be on the field during pregame warmups with all players being identified by number, in hopes of limiting pregame scuffles.