I don’t blame the folks at Roll Bama Roll for being peeved about this:
In the aftermath of Alabama’s loss to Ole Miss on Saturday, discussion has been rekindled around the POP pass and its exploitation of the ineligible receiver downfield rule. For those unfamiliar with the current rule, offensive linemen are allowed to be no more than three yards downfield at the time a forward pass is released. Having an arbitrary window like this makes it difficult for the officials to police, as the difference between three yards and four yards can be difficult to ascertain depending on the official’s angle. This inspired a failed rule proposal in the offseason to remove the three yard window and adopt the NFL rule, which allows linemen to advance no more than one yard before the pass is thrown. Proponents of spread offenses argued for better enforcement of the existing rule as opposed to a rule change, suggesting that such a rule change would take an exciting play out of college playbooks.
The rule may not be bullshit, but enforcement of it, as we all know, is close to a joke. (So much for adding that eighth member to the officiating crew to better keep up with action on the field.) So, if they’re not going to get serious about it on the field, what to do?
The article suggests expanding what can be reviewed by the replay official to include penalties dealing with time and space. Eh, I’m not sure what college football needs is another reason to slow the game down. Brian Cook offers a different approach:
… it might be better to do away with the rule altogether and just call offensive pass interference on any lineman who hits or impedes anyone other than a defensive lineman on a pass play beyond the line of scrimmage. That might be more enforceable—and the penalty would be much stiffer.
Interesting… but I’m not sure why officials would be any more willing to enforce this than the three-yard rule. Plus – and I know this is nitpicking – in an age of multiple fronts with outside linebackers that jump back and forth between the first and second level, how do you decide whether someone is a lineman on a given pass play?
Bottom line is that it’s sad we’re at a point where we know enforcement of this rule has been a failure and yet nobody expects anything to be done about it. Well played, Steve Shaw.