Big 12 officials coordinator Walt Anderson introduced a series of new rules Tuesday morning during Big 12 Media Days in Dallas.
Two notable changes for the upcoming season are that recoveries of a loose ball will be reviewable anywhere on the field, and that hits at or below the knees of a quarterback will be a penalty.
“In the past, anytime we had a loose ball on the field of play, it was not reviewable unless the end zone was involved, or the sideline,” Anderson said.
The introduction of the penalty for hitting a quarterback at or below the knees will come with three notable exceptions: When the quarterback exits the pocket to run, when the defender simply wraps up the quarterback and when the defender is blocked into the quarterback.
Anderson said a rash of “high-profile” injuries to quarterbacks finally led to the rule change, which had been in discussion for nearly a decade.
The College Football Playoff selection committee will protect the No. 1 seed by allowing it to play close to home or away from a hostile crowd.
That was a point that CFP executive director Bill Hancock emphasized during his media day session Tuesday.
Hancock ran through a series of hypothetical situations to show how the 13-person selection committee will consider not only semifinal games for the four-team playoff, but also the other four bowls included in the playoff’s rotation.
The Sugar Bowl and Rose Bowl will serve as the semifinal locations this year, with both games played on New Year’s Day, in addition to the Cotton Bowl. The Peach Bowl, Orange Bowl and Fiesta Bowl will be played on New Year’s Eve. The championship game will be played Jan. 12, 2015, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
One example Hancock ran through was if Ohio State finishes No. 1 in the selection committee’s top-25 poll and LSU finishes No. 4, matching the two teams in a semifinal. The committee, in that situation, would send those two teams to the Rose Bowl, avoiding an overt home-field advantage for lower-seed LSU in New Orleans.
Hancock said the goal of the new format will be to preserve the importance of the regular season and the prestige of the bowl season, while also implementing a bracket-style championship.
“We feel like this gives us the best of both worlds,” Hancock said. “This will change the paradigm of New Year’s Eve parties in our countries. They better have a TV or we won’t go.”
Future games in DFW
Tommy Bain, chairman of the Stadium Events Organizing Committee that will oversee this year’s inaugural College Football Playoff championship game in Arlington, envisions local organizers making a play for a return engagement when bids for the 2018-2020 games are due next year.
Hancock said he expects the competition to be “heated and passionate” between cities vying to host one of the games, with significant interest coming from Indianapolis, Minneapolis and Atlanta.
Bain said local organizers would like to bring the game back to AT&T Stadium within the next three-year cycle and are sounding out the appropriate target date.
“We’re going to pick our spot,” Bain said. “I don’t know if that’s 2019 or 2020 or whatever it is. We’ll make a decision on that and then really focus on that bid.”
Ideally, Bain said he hopes AT&T Stadium can become a regular stop in the title game rotation, much like the British Open typically returns to St. Andrews in every five-year cycle.
OU transfer waivers
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said Tuesday that transfer waivers for Dorial Green-Beckham and Baker Mayfield are still processing.
Green-Beckham, a receiver dismissed by Missouri in April, signed with Oklahoma earlier this summer. Mayfield, a quarterback and Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year in 2013, arrived from Texas Tech. Both players are appealing for waivers that would allow them to play immediately.
Stoops said he’s hopeful Green-Beckham will be cleared and that Mayfield, a walk-on last fall at Tech, should be cleared.
“I think it’s one thing if you’ve invested a scholarship in an individual and he decides to leave,” Stoops said. “But a guy that you haven’t invested a scholarship in, I don’t know why that ... would be an issue.”
’Horns RBs bolstered
Texas fans received good news this week in regard to the Longhorns’ running back situation: Both Johnathan Gray and Joe Bergeron should be available when fall camp begins.
Gray, an Aledo product, injured his Achilles last year, missing the final four games. Texas announced Monday that Gray would be able to fully participate in camp.
Bergeron, who missed part of spring practice to focus on academics, should “be in the mix,” Texas coach Charlie Strong said.
Those two should be used rotationally, along with Malcolm Brown.
“[Running backs coach Tommie Robinson] likes everybody getting touches. He loves it,” Brown said. “His backs at USC, they all got touches, so that’s what excited us.”