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April 18, 2011

Monday with Mike: New rule too late for Vols

The NCAA's Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved some new rules late last week that will go into effect this fall. One of them comes a few months too late for coach Derek Dooley and Tennessee.

The panel decided that there should be a 10-second run-off of the game clock if a team commits a penalty that stops the clock in the final minute of both halves (the NFL already has such a rule). If you remember the end of the Music City Bowl, North Carolina had too many men on the field in the final seconds against Tennessee. The Tar Heels were penalized 5 yards, but -- most important -- the clock was stopped because of the penalty. That allowed UNC to kick a tying field goal on the last play of regulation; the Heels went on to win in overtime.

The new rule gives an opposing coach three options:

He can take the rundown and the yardage.
He can take the yardage without the rundown.
He can decline the penalty.

There also are new rules that further govern blocking below the waist and outlawing instances in which three defensive players line up shoulder-to-shoulder-to-shoulder and move forward on kicks.

Those changes must be approved by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel this summer before being implemented; that is seen as a fait accompli.

But the most important new rule actually was passed last year: The new taunting rule goes into effect this season.

If what a ref deems taunting goes on in the field of play, it will be treated as a live-ball penalty; previously, all taunting penalties were treated as dead-ball fouls.

This has the potential to turn into a nightmare because as anyone who has watched more than one game per weekend can attest, refs in different leagues treat taunting vastly differently. What is considered a taunt in ... oh, let's pick a league at random ... the SEC might go unflagged in the Big Ten or Pac-12 (or the ACC or the Big East or the Big 12 or the MAC or C-USA or the WAC or the Mountain West or the Sun Belt).

NCAA honchos need to realize this now: You can say the rule will be applied uniformly, but don't get mad when fans -- even casual fans -- laugh uproariously at your naivete.

There has been another change having to do with officials this fall. David Parry, a former Big Ten ref, had been the national coordinator for officials for the past three seasons before retiring after last season. He has been replaced by Rogers Redding -- and Redding is a former SEC official. Now, just because a former SEC ref is head of the national group of officials doesn't mean all college refs everywhere suddenly become inconsistent, but ...

Color my world

Installation of a new artificial turf field begins today at Central Arkansas, an FCS program in the Southland Conference. That's noteworthy because the field will be painted purple and gray.

Purple and gray will be alternated in 5-yard sections from the goal lines out to the 45-yard lines. Between the 45s will be a 10-yard gray segment with the logo centered at midfield. The end zones will be black with "Bears" in white lettering, with bear-paw logos on either side of the nickname.

UCA's field will be the third NCAA field to be a color other than green. Boise State has its blue field, and defending FCS champ Eastern Washington unveiled a red field last season.

Gee, coach, anybody in mind?

South Carolina had its spring game Saturday, and the final spring workout came Thursday. Coach Steve Spurrier, though, is one of those coaches who firmly believe that what a player does in the summer is even more important than how he performs in the spring.

"I've always believed summer's more important than spring," Spurrier said Thursday. "You get 15 practices out here. During these 15, we've tried to teach our players, 'Here's what you need to do all summer.' And I mean all summer long."

Spurrier turns 66 on Wednesday, and he certainly hasn't mellowed with age. Just consider the rest of his quote.

"Some guys do it -- and some go drink beer all summer."

Gee, you wonder if that reference went over Stephen Garcia's head.

Grid bits

The two best games on the opening weekend of the season are on Saturday, Sept. 3, and both technically are neutral-site contests: LSU-Oregon in Arlington, Texas, and Boise State-Georgia in Atlanta. In their infinite wisdom, the folks at Disney -- which owns ABC and ESPN -- have decided that both games will kick off at 8 p.m. Eastern. LSU-Oregon will be on ABC and Boise State-Georgia will be on ESPN. Nice job, guys.

Staying with some early season TV news, Michigan will play host to Notre Dame on Sept. 10 at 8 p.m. It will be the first night game in Michigan Stadium history, and given that the game will be on ESPN, be prepared for an onslaught of "A Night Game at The Big House!!!!" stories that will commence, oh, in about a week. Meanwhile, Notre Dame will play host to USC on Oct. 22 on NBC in what will be the first night game at Notre Dame Stadium since 1990.

FX, the network best known for edgy programs such as "The Shield," "Justified" and "Archer," will get into the college football business this fall. The network will broadcast 13 games. A safe bet: None of those games will be anything close to as good as "The Shield," "Justified" or "Archer."

There must be something in the water in Arizona. Earlier this spring, Arizona State lost two starters to torn ACLs, CB Omar Bolden and WR T.J. Simpson, while Arizona S Adam Hall also suffered a torn ACL. Saturday, in Arizona's spring game, projected starting LB Jake Fischer suffered a knee injury, and initial reports were that Fischer, too, had suffered a torn ACL. Bolden would've been one of the best cornerbacks in the nation, and Hall is a monster hitter. Simpson and Fischer aren't necessarily stars, but coaches don't like losing starters to injuries during the spring.

Two SEC teams also lost players to torn ACLs. At Arkansas, it was backup RB Broderick Green. Green, who began his career at USC, is expected to petition the NCAA for a sixth season of eligibility. Meanwhile, Ole Miss lost starting LB D.T. Shackelford to the dreaded ligament tear. Ole Miss also lost QB Nathan Stanley, who has left the team. Stanley was set to be Ole Miss' starter last season before Jeremiah Masoli moved in. This spring, Stanley reportedly was fourth on the depth chart.

Stetson announced earlier this year that it would resurrect its football program in 2013. Stetson began football in 1901 but discontinued it after the 1957 season. The school is in DeLand, Fla., about 45 minutes northeast of Orlando, about halfway between Orlando and Daytona Beach. The school is a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference, but plans to join the non-scholarship Pioneer League for football. Jacksonville, about 90 miles from DeLand, is Stetson's rival in the A-Sun and is a football-playing member of the Pioneer League.

Arizona State unveiled new uniforms, new helmets and a new logo last week. Obviously, "attractiveness" in a logo is in the eye of the beholder. The school's new marketing slogan, though, leaves something to be desired: "Fear the fork." Come on.

There will be a new award this fall. The Jerry Rice Trophy will go to the best freshman in the FCS ranks.

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.

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