New Football Rule

While watching North Carolina stomp the ever-lovin’ crap out of Florida State (and I like FSU), I thought of a change I’d like to make to the football rules - both at the college and pro levels.

[sub]Yes, I know there has been at least one other thread about rules, but I don’t think this one was there, and I’m too lazy to search it up[/sub]

The PlanMan Rule
If a penalty occurs on the Defense between the 5 yard line and the Goal Line, the Offense will have the option of taking the result of the play, or receiveing an extra down.

[sub]I could be talked into the 3 yard line.[/sub]
Why? To get rid of the silly, and ineffectual, “half-the-distance-to-the-goal” thing. What difference does it make if they are 24" or 48" from the Goal? (OK, sometimes it matters, but really.) It would be more likely to be a benefit to the offense to get another try at it. May cut down on cheap fouls by the Defense, if the penalty is only a few inches, might be worth it to hit someone late, or jump offsides; but, if it is a free down … ?

Example: Ball on the 3 yard line, 3rd down. Defense commits a foul. Under current rules, Offense has ball on 1 and half yard line, still 3rd down. Under the PlanMan Rule, Offense would still be on the 3 yard line, but now it is 2nd down.

They DO have the option of taking the result of the play or getting the play over (with 1/2 the distance). And penalties like pass interference already give the offense a 1st down. Why not just give them a TD if there’s a penalty inside the 5? :rolleyes:

But they already get an extra down, plus half the distance in yards. That’s why the officials like to say things like, “replay third down.”


(You couldn’t mean that the down actually regresses by one, could you? In that case, what would happen when there’s a penalty on first down? Zeroth down?)

Well, actually, I do mean that the down “regresses” by one* - my point is that within the five, the number of attempts is more beneficial to the Offense - and thus detrimental to the Defense - than moving the football a couple feet.

And, sorry about the rule-ese of replicating the ‘choice’ language - the point is to subtract a down, not move the ball.

  • OK, there is a glitch if a penalty is called on first down. More thought needed here.

BTW - how about them Jaguars!

I don’t think this problem is a problem.

Say it’s second and goal at the 5. The defense goes offside. It’s now second and goal from the 2 1/2. The offense has picked up yardage and they still have the same number of downs to work with.

Remember that some defensive penalties will automatically give the offense a first down. Infractions like holding and pass interference are the most notable.

There are few, if any situations, in football where it is beneficial to pick up a penalty. The only one I can think of is to commit pass interference to prevent a touchdown.

If the defense hits someone late, as posed in the OP, that’s a personal foul and it’s an automatic first down.

one thing I have never understood is why if say a team is on their 15 yard line and they get a ten yard penalty the ball only goes back half the distance and not to the 5.

By NCAA rule 10-2-3, the maximum penalty is to move the ball half the distance to the goal.

And you can’t halve a distance to infinity according to NCAA rule 9-2-3b

While we’re on the subject of football rules, has anyone else contemplated the inanity of the 10-yard chains? The refs make a huge production by standing around the ball and summoning the chain gang. The chain is stretched tight, and the head ref examines just how far the nose of the ball is from the end of the chain. Such incredible precision for something that has been spotted by eye!
You can’t convince me that a ref standing some 10-20 yards away has pinpointed the location of the ball at the end of the last play within an inch. The margin of error for that has got to be much greater than the precision with which they check for 1st downs.

I agree that this is dumb.

But do we have another option?

here’s my idea. You can have the rights. go build it & make a billion dollars, at least I’ll get to watch more sane football:

a transmitter or magnetic strip inside the football. detectors on the sidelines triangulate the exact position of the ball. (If we can detect you sneaking out of KMart with Blue Blocker[sup]®™[/sup] Sunglasses stuffed in your pants, we can do this) You now can electronically detect first downs, out of bounds, & touchdowns. Actually, put one transmitter in each end of the ball so you can detect just the nose going over. if using transmitters, there would need to be a battery source in the ball. But I still think all necessary hardware can be made light enough so as not to affect the weight of the ball.

Of course, Fox TV will now have instant readout of the velocity of the passes. They’ll also want to install a huge segmented LED down each sideline that lights up with the current position of the ball, and flashes obnoxiously when the ball crosses the 1st down marker or the plane of the endzone.

seriously, i’ve been tossing this idea around for awhile. anyone care to poke some holes in it?

Hey now, lit fields and cool tech crap will get even me to watch football.

Well, the first hole I see is when a transmitter in the ball malfunctions.
“Umm, no Mr. Faulk, you did not score a touchdown. I know you are standing in the endzone with the ball right now but the computer says you have not yet crossed the plane of the goal line.”
The transmitters would have to be pretty tough lest they break on the opening kickoff.

Plus half the fun of watching football with a large group is debating such plays “He was out”, “Nah, he was in”.

Then you have the issue of when a player is down. Sure the ball crossed the goal line, but was the runner’s knee down before that? A triangulated fix on the ball won’t help that.


The other problem you have is one of massive capital investment to solve nothing. The number of times in which the spotting of the ball is actually determinative of the outcome of the game is pretty damn small. (I have no statistics to back this up, only my experience of watching many games. I would bet it is only a real issue once a season for a team.)

Example: Most recent MNF game. The Packers’ first series of the game was ended by what was arguably a really horrid spot of the ball on third down. But that bad call had zero impact on the outcome of the game.

Why invest millions in the R&D necessary to make that plan come to fruition when you already have instant replay for the really big decisions (like whether someone crossed the plane of the goal or not).

I’m sure you realize how deeply the NFL is rolling in cash. (Refs are restless? double their pay) This system should cost no more than the replay monitors, etc. which do an inferior job (tho not exactly the same job). Or how about the 25 TV camera 3D modeling thingy from the Superbowl? I’ll prototype this thing for a cool mil. That kinda dough is petty cash for NFL. poke holes in the playability or feasability of my idea, but I’m not concerned about the money side. (besides, it attracts even more viewers! thanks Medea’s Child :)!)

as far as it “solving nothing”, tell that to Vinnie T lying on the 1 foot line. (yeah yeah, Instant Replay fixes that, but my idea will fix it better).

now xizor raises some good points: malfunctions. Well, keep the chains around for backup, of course. It should be pretty easy for the software to disable the thing when it starts reading some wacky locations. refs could always have the option to overrule it.

and it would need to be battle hardened of course. If it could be implemented with the same kind of magnetic strips used in inventory control, then i think it’d survive just fine. IANARadio engineer, so I just don’t know enough to say what kind of hardware would need to be in the ball. Hopefully that side would all be passive.

and yes, the system would have to know when the ball is live or dead. absolutely right. I forgot to mention in my prev. post that the ref carries a little remote control clicker that tells the system if the ball is live or not.

which gives us yet another Another BIG Improvement! The spot becomes much more accurate. The ref just has to watch for a knee going down & hits his “play over” button. The system tells us exactly where the ball was at that moment.

I remain un-disillusioned


Yeah, I realize they are loaded and also recognize their inherent nature to horde that cash. I believe the 3D system to which you refer was paid for by the networks and quickly determined to be too crude for their production standards and too expensive to use regularly. I still maintain that the system you propose, while a cool gizmo and XFL-esque (potentially appealing to younger viewers, etc.) is an idea whose time has not come.

I just don’t believe there is any need for a system that can tell you if the ball should be placed on the 24.79237 yard line. You also introduce all sorts of other problems in that your referees will be more dependant upon the technology. They need to keep spotting the ball the best they can because a system as technically complex as the one your propose will break down. (Hell, the play clock goes out every so often and that is just a simple electronic timer attached to a few light bulbs.) If they rely on their button and triangulation system they will not be as good at spotting when it goes out. Then there are the complexities of:

  1. What you do with replay? (Do you need it after the system is in place? I would say yes but then what is reviewable and what isn’t?)

  2. What happens on a “quick button” situation? (Just like you have different rules about reviewability for things before the whistle blew and after you will now need pre-button and post-button rules. What about post-button but pre-whistle?)

From my point of view you are just introducing a lot of unecessary additional problems to have a cool new gadget and remedy something that really isn’t a problem. (You even admit that your one example happened without replay.) If the NFL really wants to solve a major problem, they should pour those millions in to studying concussions and knee injuries and how to prevent them.