- David Ubben, College Football
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Last year, the NCAA's Playing Rules Oversight Panel officially approved three new rule changes. They added a few more earlier this month.
But there's no question about which rule has generated the most controversy.
Beginning next season, if a player taunts while still in the field of play and scores a touchdown, the points won't count and the player will be penalized 15 yards from the spot of the foul.
Previously, a taunting penalty was a dead ball foul and the penalty yards could be assessed on the extra point try or the ensuing kickoff.
Plenty have criticized the rule since it became official last year, and Baylor coach Art Briles joined the group during a recent Big 12 coaches teleconference.
"If you’re letting me vote," he said, "I’m voting no."
But Briles doesn't have a vote, and along with the rest of the coaches, will have to deal with a rule that's wholly subjective and could have a profound impact on the outcome of games.
"I don’t see how taunting to you won’t be different than taunting to me," he said. "If a guy elongates his stride, is that taunting somebody?"
And what's a fist pump? Where is the line between accepted celebration and showing up an opponent. Officials were shown examples during a recent meeting, and one explicit example included a touchdown scored by Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon against Arizona in the Alamo Bowl.
Blackmon beat his defender, but rather than score immediately, ran parallel to the goal line for several stride before crossing for the score. That, officials were shown, would be a penalty.
Kansas State receiver Adrian Hilburn famously was penalized after scoring what could have been a game-tying touchdown in the Pinstripe Bowl, forcing the Wildcats to try a game-tying two-point conversion from the 18-yard line, instead of the 3-yard line.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, the day following the Pinstripe Bowl, expressed his thoughts on taunting rules as they currently were: still subjective but unable to take points off the board.
"The enforcement of it, it's not for me to say. But what I do know is what our players -- what's explained to them is it is a judgment call. Everybody's judgment is different," Stoops said. "So if you open the door for it to be called, then don't be -- if it is called, don't be saying 'All I did was this.' You opened the door, gave them the opportunity, and everybody's judgment's different. So don't go there. And hopefully our players will abide by the rules."
Most coaches, with the rule now possessing much bigger consequences, will likely have to explain a similar approach to their teams. But coaches can't suppress their players' emotions, and a big play could mean forgetting those guidelines.
"I would hate for one guy that views [taunting] differently than another to determine the outcome of a football game," Briles said.
So would everyone else.
But for now, that's the way the rule is written.
9hJake Trotter and Brandon Chatmon