August 15, 2009

New faces, places ready to begin 2009 season

Other than a somewhat-contentious trip to Capitol Hill, it was a quiet summer for the BCS honchos and also for the football rules committee.

Changes in recent seasons have included new clock rules and tweaks to video reviews and coaches' challenges. No such changes will be felt this season.

Ever controversial, the BCS is at least stable. For the third consecutive season, BCS officials didn't make changes to the selection process or the formula for the standings.

Punters, quite literally, may be the only ones to feel the effects of a rules change this season.

Here's a rundown of what's new for the 2009 college football season:


PLAYING RULES

Punters using a rugby-style kick are fair game. Punters running laterally for several yards, specifically outside of the tackle box, before kicking no longer will be protected by roughing-the-kicker or running-into-the-kicker penalties.

The chin strap will be included on face-mask penalties. A player will be flagged if he twists, turns or pulls the face mask, any helmet opening and now the chin strap of an opponent.

Pete Carroll and Rick Neuheisel won't have to waste timeouts this season if both USC and UCLA decide to wear home jerseys in their rivalry game. The NCAA has decided if a visiting team gets written permission from the home team, both teams can wear colored jerseys. The home team's conference must agree the jerseys "are of contrasting colors."


BOWLS

The Rose Bowl and ABC get their first crack at the BCS championship game. The Rose Bowl is the last of the four BCS sites to host the title game since the BCS added the fifth game in 2006. The BCS championship game will be Jan. 7, six days after the Rose Bowl. The last time Pasadena, Calif., hosted a national title game, it was a classic. Vince Young and Texas upset Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart and No. 1 USC, 41-38.

The Cotton Bowl follows the Orange Bowl in moving out of its namesake stadium. The game will be played in the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, this season after spending every year since 1938 in Dallas' Cotton Bowl. The Orange Bowl hasn't been played at the since-demolished Orange Bowl since 1996.


TV TALK

ABC and ESPN shuffled some of their announcer lineups with the addition of former Detroit Lions general manager Matt Millen as an analyst. Millen will join play-by-play man Sean McDonough for one of the ABC Saturday afternoon games.

The Brad Nessler-Bob Griese-Paul Maguire and Mike Patrick-Todd Blackledge teams were broken up. Nessler and Blackledge now will team for the ESPN Saturday night game, while Patrick and Craig James will team for one of ABC's afternoon games. Griese joins fellow analyst Chris Spielman and Dave Pasch on ESPN for Saturday afternoon games.

The SEC's deal with ESPN kicks in with prime-time games on ESPNU on Saturday plus a syndicated game on the SEC Network (a.k.a., ESPN regional television).

The Army-Navy game will have a new time slot. CBS moved the game to Dec. 12, after every other team has finished its regular season. Previously, the game was played on the first Saturday in December, when it competed with conference championship games and other rivalries with more postseason and title implications.


STADIUM SITUATIONS

Minnesota returns to campus after spending the past 28 years at the Metrodome. The Gophers move into swanky TCF Bank Stadium this season for their first outdoor home games since they played at Memorial Stadium for 58 years.

Akron moves out of the Rubber Bowl and into the on-campus InfoCision Stadium. The Zips had played at the Rubber Bowl since 1940.

Four stadiums are switching from natural grass to artificial turf: Texas' Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, Arkansas' Razorback Stadium, Iowa's Kinnick Stadium and San Jose State's Spartan Stadium.


TEAMS AND COACHES

Western Kentucky now is a full-fledged member of the Football Bowl Subdivision and the Sun Belt Conference. They become the 120th FBS member and the ninth Sun Belt team.

Twenty-two teams or 18 percent of the FBS have new coaches. They are: ACC: Frank Spaziani (Boston College), Dabo Swinney (Clemson). Big 12: Paul Rhoads (Iowa State), Bill Snyder (Kansas State). Big East: Doug Marrone (Syracuse). Big Ten: Danny Hope (Purdue). MAC: Stan Parrish (Ball State), Dave Clawson (Bowling Green), Ron English (Eastern Michigan), Mike Haywood (Miami), Tim Beckman (Toledo). Mountain West: Mike Locksley (New Mexico), Brady Hoke (San Diego State), Dave Christensen (Wyoming). Pac-10: Chip Kelly (Oregon), Steve Sarkisian (Washington). SEC: Gene Chizik (Auburn), Dan Mullen (Mississippi State), Lane Kiffin (Tennessee). WAC: DeWayne Walker (New Mexico State), Gary Andersen (Utah State). Independents: Rich Ellerson (Army).

David Fox is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dfox@rivals.com.




 

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