EXCLUSIVELY to Monday's Chalktalk Rogers Redding, the national coordinator of College Football Officiating, provides insights about rules changes and the mindset of college football referees. The CFO is the national professional organization for all football officials who work games at the collegiate level.

Minimum Time to Spike the Ball for Another Play: 3 Seconds

            Late in a half when the game clock is stopped and will start on the referee’s signal and the offense has no timeouts, there is often a question of how long it will take for the quarterback to “spike” the ball to allow time for another play.   The rules committee has established three seconds as this minimum time.  For example, suppose that the offense has made a first down and they are out of timeouts.  The game clock is stopped and will start on the Referee’s signal.  The new rule means that if there are three seconds showing on the clock the offense may reasonably expect that the quarterback will be able to take the snap, spike the ball and still have enough time to run another play.  There is no guarantee of this—the team must still execute the spike.  But they will have a reasonable opportunity for another play.  If the clock shows one or two seconds, they will only have enough time to run a play without first spiking the ball.

Player Numerals: Must Contrast With the Jersey

Uniform manufacturers have become very creative in the design of jerseys.  For many years the rules have required that the numerals contrast with the body of the jersey itself.  Many teams have begun wearing jerseys that barely if at all conform to this rule.  So this year the committee has tightened the language to make clear that the color of the jersey number itself must be clearly and obviously in contrast with the jersey, regardless of any border around the number. For example, teams will not be allowed to wear black numbers on black jerseys with a border of a bright color around the numeral; it must clearly contrast with the jersey in and of itself.

Changing Jersey and Duplicate Numbers

Teams occasionally want to use a player at two different positions during the game—perhaps, say, linebacker on defense and tight end on offense.  Because of the restrictions on eligible pass receivers’ jersey numbers, it might be necessary for the player to change numbers.  The rule now requires that a player who enters wearing a different number from earlier in the game must report to the referee who will in turn announce the change.

In addition, it is no longer for two players who play the same position at different times in the game to wear the same number.  For example, two quarterbacks may not both wear number 12.