Ask the Official: What football rules would you change?

By Adam Wire | Posted 12/27/2017

Welcome to Ask the Official, a weekly blog series from USA Football. We’ve teamed up with Bill LeMonnier, USA Football rules editor, who’s served as a college football referee and also works with ESPN as a rules analyst. Look for LeMonnier’s blog every week during football season, as we take reader-submitted questions or revisit a controversial play that took place the previous weekend. See below for information on how to submit your questions. Here’s today’s topic:

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Q: If you could change (add, delete or modify) one rule each from the NFHS and NCAA  rulebooks, which rules would you change, and why?

A: "NFHS ... Penalty enforcement: Penalties that take place behind the line of scrimmage should be changed to previous spot fouls instead of spot fouls. Currently, a holding penalty by the offense that occurs three or four yards behind the line of scrimmage turns into a 13- or 14-yard penalty. A runner who's tackled behind the line of scrimmage by the face mask loses those yards as the penalty is walked off from the end of the run.  There is a huge inequity on each of these situations.  Depending on the spot of the foul, the inequity gets bigger.

"NCAA ... Illegal formation penalties:  These are game interrupters ... continue to require the offense to have at least five players wear Nos. 50-79 ... then you have six players wearing 1-49 and 80-99. Who cares where they line up?  The defense needs to cover the eligible numbers.  Nos. 50-79 can't legally be the first to touch a forward pass anyway, so why do we care if there are five in the backfield or the tight end who's wearing No. 80 is covered... all we're doing is interrupting the game with a technical foul."

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USA Football Rules Editor Bill LeMonnier is a former college football referee who currently serves as an ESPN NCAA rules analyst. Click here to ask Bill a question. Make sure to put “Ask the Official” in the subject line.