Football rules changes for 2020

White hat

VaPreps Honorable Mention
Aug 17, 2001
The new rule changes are out. There is nothing revolutionary. I'd even say there is nothing noticable.

The play clock can now be set at 40 after an officials time-out for injury or equipment repair by the defense. I never heard of this being an issue, but it seems someone got worried that if there was less than 40 seconds left in a half and the defense had no time-outs, they could go down with an injury and force a snap because the play clock would be 25 when the clock restarts. I doubt that ever happened, but I suppose it could.

Another "change" says the play clock is set at 25 and starts on the ready for play whistle after all legal kicks. I'm trying to figure out what changed here. That's the way it was done last year.

A good change now allows a QB to spike the ball to conserve time ("clocking") from shotgun. Previously, to legally spike the ball the QB had to go under center and receive a hand-to-hand snap. It must still be immediate. The QB cannot look around to see if anyone is breaking clear behind the defense then decide that no one is open so he's going to clock it.

Not many people knew that if the defense calls abrupt signals or shouts in a way that could be inferred as a means to cause the offense to commit a false start, the penalty was unsportsmanlike conduct. In NCAA, it's delay of game. Well, as the two codes get closer together, high school now matches the NCAA in that it is a 5-yard foul. Again, how often did that even come up.

Another change that merely pulls the Rules Book into line with the way the game is being called now allows the head coach to tell the referee before the game who will be making the decisions regarding acceptance or declination of a penalty. By rule, this was always supposed to be the choice of the designated captain, but it had been years since I asked a captain about whether to accept a penalty or not. I always go to the coach, as does everyone I know.

Finally, another common sense rule that just brings the Rules Book in line with the way games are administered now allows halftime to be shortened to as little as 1 minute if, during the last 3 minutes of the second quarter, there is a lengthy weather delay. If you've already been off the field for more than 20 minutes right before hlftime, there's really no need to do so again just as soon as the game resumes.

The press release is here:

List of changes here:
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