The NCAA has changed a football, clock rule, and as a result, Alabama football should petition to have the 2019 Iron Bowl replayed.
Yes, Alabama football fans, this post is an overreaction. Rules changes cannot be retroactive. Nor can there be a reversal of game outcomes because a football official made a mistake. Not even one as grievous as the out-of-bounds pass reception in the 2019 LSU game.
Going forward, making rules fair to both teams is always important. The NCAA announced four new rules changes on Tuesday. They will be in effect for the 2020 season.
The change most college football fans will most notice pertains to targeting. Per the NCAA Media Release,
Players disqualified for targeting will be allowed to remain on the sidelines starting with the 2020 football season.
No more banishment to the team locker room for the remainder of a game. No other changes were made to the targeting rule. If the NCAA slacked up on decorum with the targeting change, it did the opposite with ‘pregame protocol.’ Game officials will have jurisdiction on the field starting at 90 minutes before a game. Previously, it was 60 minutes. Also, when players are on the field doing pregame warm-ups, a coach must be on the field. The new protocol is designed to better control “negative interactions between teams.”
Alabama football fans will be especially interested in new instant replay rules. Video reviews will be expected to be complete in two minutes or less. A subset of this change will be celebrated by Crimson Tide fans.
If the game clock expires at the end of a half and replay determines that there was time remaining and the clock should start on the referee’s signal after review, there must be at least three seconds remaining, when the ball should have been declared dead, to restore time to the clock.
If less than three seconds remain on the game clock, the half is over.
The change outlined above could easily be called the ‘Saban rule’ or even the ‘Malzahn rule.’ Nick Saban was clear the end of last season’s Iron Bowl first half was influenced by referee error. The Auburn Tigers should not have been given an opportunity to run a field goal team on the field, resulting in a successful 52-yard kick.
Saban was correct and the NCAA’s new definition now clearly specifies what should be done, and should have been done, in such a situation.
An unrealistic desire for fairness could drive a wish the second half of the Iron Bowl should be replayed, with the Tigers starting with three fewer points. Or, maybe play an overtime, since subtracting the field goal would have left the game tied at the end of regulation at 45-45.
Neither of these options can or even should happen. Alabama football fans must accept an unsatisfactory outcome. At least the same mistake should never occur again.
Three more things about the 2019 Iron Bowl come to mind. Another missed field goal, from almost chip-shot range, needs no elaboration. Surrendering either 45 or 48 points to the Tigers is unacceptable. Including the Iron Bowl, Auburn averaged a shade over 33 points-per-game last season. The third point is – in this century, Auburn is the luckiest team in college football.