CFL EYEING CHANGES TO SAFETIES, FORMATIONS, REPLAY CHALLENGES AND KICK OFFS AFTER FIELD GOALS
Board of Governors to consider moves suggested by fans and rules committee
Hamilton, Ontario (March 5, 2009) -- The Canadian Football League is eyeing a few new moves.Its Board of Governors is considering:
•Moving back the kick-off following a safety touch, to reduce the number of times a team chooses to take a knee in its own end zone;
•Giving coaches the green light to use so called "wildcat" formations that would move the quarterback around, instead of requiring him to stand behind or under centre;
•Requiring a team that kicks a successful field goal to then kick off to its' opponents, increasing the number of kick returns;
•Awarding a team a third challenge of an official's ruling using instant replay if its' first two challenges are successful.
All four ideas were approved today by the league's rules committee, and were among those suggested by CFL fans."We tend to look at our game like a precious stone that has been in the family for generations: we're willing to put a new shine on it, but we strive to be very careful not to damage it," said Tom Higgins, the CFL's director of officiating and a member of the rules committee. "We feel the rule changes we've discussed today can improve an already great product, and now the final say rests with our board."
This year, for the first time, CFL fans were invited by the league to submit their ideas for rules changes. More than 2,000 submissions were received, most of them detailed and all of them passionate about the game and how it's played.Several fans wanted some sort of change made to the safety touch, citing coaches' tendency to surrender two points in their own end zone to preserve field position, instead of punting the ball away to their opponents, which could sent up a kick return or offensive drive with a high chance of scoring.The committee is suggesting moving the kickoff following a safety back, from the 35 yard line to the 25 yard line, which could encourage more coaches to kick the ball away rather than take a knee in the end zone.
Other fans called for the introduction of the so-called "wildcat formation," which would require a change to the current CFL rule that requires the quarterback to always line up under or behind the centre of the offensive line.The committee wants to allow the quarterback to move to other spots in a formation, including at wide receiver, before the ball is snapped.Fans generally wanted to see more kick returns, citing a return that goes for a touchdown as one of the most exciting plays in Canadian football. The commitee is suggesting requiring a kick off after every made field goal, instead of giving the receiving the team the option of scrimmaging from their 35-yard-line. It is also proposing awarding a team with a third challenge of an official's call using replay if its' first two challenges are successful. ''Other topics brought forward by our fans, or by committee members, ranged from the rouge to the convert to allowing more types of plays to be challenged on the basis of instant replay," Higgins said."But at the end of the day, there wasn't a clear consensus, among our fans or committee members, on exactly what should be done to improve those rules, so they've been tabled for future discussion."
The Board of Governors has the power to accept, reject or even alter the rules committee's suggestions. It will meet later this Spring, in plenty of time to institute rule changes in time for the Canada Day kickoff of the Canadian Football League's regular schedule."I want to thank the fans that took the time to send us their ideas to improve our game," said CFL Commissionner, Mark Cohon."While there wasn't always unanimity on exactly what should be done, there was lots of spirited debate on our fan forums and in the media, and virtually everyone agreed our process was stronger for our fans' input and insight, and it's something we hope to continue," he said."Over the years, many significant rules changes have been discussed by the committee or our board more than once before they have moved forward. So it's likely that in addition to the changes brought forward today, others submitted by fans will be considered in the years ahead."