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Peak Perspective: Thoughts on 2021 Rule Changes

Let’s look at this year’s NCAA rulings.

Every year the NCAA makes new rule proposals sometime in the spring. And every year, we dedicate a post discussing our thoughts on those rule changes. This year, they released the proposed changes in a few different parts, with rule changes coming to both the world of football and basketball, Catch up on the changes and then see below for our thoughts. Share your own opinions in the comments section.

Football rule changes

OT Rules

What was said: Teams will be required to run a 2-point conversion play after a touchdown in the 2nd OT. Starting with the 3rd OT, teams will run alternating 2-point plays instead of starting another drive at the opponent’s 25-yard line.

What we think: We discussed this at length a while back here, but if you just want the summarized version, here is it. College football OT rules weren’t broken, so it seems unnecessary to fix it. It is an overreaction to a seven overtime game in 2017 and is focusing on the wrong things. Overtime games are rare, and multiple overtime games are extremely rare. It’s not the worst change, but it’s an odd thing to focus on.

No unsportsmanlike tactics.

What was said: Video board and lighting system operators have been included in the personnel who may not create any distraction that obstructs play.

What we think: Basically, they have to be impartial and can’t manipulate or impact the game in a way that could favor the home team (or either team). These personnel now have stricter consequences if they don’t perform at an adequate level. I’m unsure if this will come into play at all, but it’s worth setting a standard.

Team area extended.

What was said: The team area will be permanently extended to the 20-yard lines.

What we think: Why not? This provides more space, be it for covid or coaching or just because. I can’t think of any downside to extending it five yards on either side.

Injury faking

What was said: There will be a framework created to allow a school or conference to request a postgame video review about questionable injuries.

What we think: It sounds nice, but the jury is out depending on what the framework will look like. Will it serve its purpose or be a new loophole for extra timeouts, punish players for staying on the ground for an extra few seconds to catch their breath or other unintended purposes? It remains to be seen.

Refs will emphasize.

What was said: Taunting, uniforms (pants, jerseys, and T-shirts that extend below the torso), and coaches who leave the team area or step on the field to debate an officiating decision. If they do, it will be an automatic unsportsmanlike conduct foul.

What we think: This reminds me of how leagues make new areas of focus each offseason and how quickly they fall to the wayside after a month or so. Remember the new basketball in the NBA or how they focused on flopping or shooters leaving into contact to draw a foul? The former was replaced when players complained, and the latter quickly faded away. Even in the college game, players needed to leave the field of play if their jerseys came untucked. Taunting is good to address and hopefully will be. Coaches stepping on the field will likely have a handful of calls about that the first month to prove a point. The uniforms seem like overkill, but we will see. Nothing wrong here, just seems like a bit of micro-management.

Basketball rule changes

More technicals

What was said: It has been recommended officials assess technical fouls to players who fake being fouled.

What we think: It sounds good in theory, but what will it look like in practicality? Is it up to the discretion of the referee in the moment? That’s a lot of pressure on someone to make a snap judgment. Is it going to video evidence? That way is more effective. It’s hard to know without criteria and a sample size, which will only occur from letting it happen. As stated above, this seems like a classic “it will be a big deal the first few weeks of the season; something controversial will happen in a big game or for/against a college basketball blue-blood, and then will fade into oblivion.”


What was said: A movement towards allowing the transmission of live statistics to the bench area for coaching purposes.

What we think: This is great. Hard to see a downside here. As long as both teams can access things in the moment, it will have the potential to make the in-game strategy more effective, leading to better games, which is what we all want.

Foul changes

What was said: Players could be allowed a maximum of six fouls instead of the current five, in some scenarios, before being disqualified from a game.

What we think: There has been a movement towards increasing the foul limit from five to six in the college game, seemingly for years. It has been long overdue, so overall, it is a good thing. Some scenarios is the key phrase here, and it gets confusing in a hurry. If a player has too many or not enough fouls in the first half of a game (four or one, to be exact), they would be penalized. No player can have more than four fouls in a half, and if they do, they foul out. If they have one foul in the first half, they can only accumulate four in the second half. If they have three first-half fouls, then they can get three second-half fouls as well. No word on two first-half fouls, but it sounds like that would be similar to three. It seems overly complicated, but it is heading in the right direction. Watch out for the conditions and fine print to become a factor in a big game at some point.

Time outs

What was said: For the sake of time, it’s proposed that any timeout called by a team be designated as the media timeout provided that the media timeout has not already been used in that segment.

What we think: Speeding up the game is always a positive development. This seems like a nice way to do so, limiting game stoppage for unnecessary reasons. Timeouts can serve multiple purposes, and there isn’t a need for extra timeouts to get commercials in when the normal timeouts already do that. This is a small win.

Shot clock.

What was said: The committee proposed allowing shot clocks to have tenths of seconds to be displayed next season.

What we think: This can only be positive. It will result in more accurate games as the shot-clock winds down, knowing exactly how much time is left, or at least knowing how much time is left down to the tenth of a second. It’s not required, so it will be interesting to see how many teams install this for the upcoming season. However, that isn’t a surprise. If it goes well (and it should), expect to see all teams adopt this within the next two or three seasons.