Question of the Week: Dumb NCAA rules

AUSTIN, Texas -- It’s summer reading time, and since there is no football to be played for another two-plus months, that means there is time to absorb all 444 pages of the Division I Manual and, just for kicks, the 210 pages of the 2013-14 NCAA Football Rules and Interpretations book.

In those pages are some needed rules and some that are head-scratchers. This week HornsNation is taking on the latter in the question of the week: Which NCAA rule is the most ridiculous or the one that most harms the athletes and programs?

William Wilkerson: Rule 3-2

I’m sure there are more ridiculous rules out there than this one. In fact, I’m positive there are.

But I’m picking Rule 3-2 because I believe it’s got a smidge of ridiculous to it and could also be harmful, in a non health-threatening way, to programs in some critical late-game situations.

The rule, “Minimum Time for a Play After Spiking the Ball,” basically states that if a game clock is stopped with three or more seconds left and will start on the referee’s signal, the offense can spike the ball and run another play. But there is only time for one play with two seconds or one second on the game clock.

There’s a reason that this has never been a rule until the NCAA Football Rules Committee approved this one on Feb. 13, 2013.

I believe the Rules Committee should be commended for trying to make the game safer for all involved. But this rule is just silly. It’s going to rear its ugly head in some critical situations this season. Just wait.

Think about how furious you’d be if your team is driving to get into position for a last-second field goal to tie or win a game. They’ve maneuvered down the field to put themselves in position for a game-winner with a completion across the middle, which gives them a first down.

Clock stops with two seconds left but you don’t have enough time to get your field-goal unit in position. Sorry, not enough time to spike the ball. The only option you are left with is a heave into the end zone. Good luck with that.

Carter Strickland: Article 17.9.6

Out-of-season athletically related activities. Now this is a huge umbrella, and it is necessary to protect the players from some of the overbearing and time-draining events coaches would invariably impose upon players were this rule not in place. But where the rule is outdated is when it comes to contact with coaches in the summer. Players are prohibited from practicing or even having contact with coaches during the summer session.

Players can only have contact with strength staffs in this time and must organize all events -- i.e. seven-on-seven -- themselves. That’s great for team bonding, etc. But the summer is the one time when players actually have time to be with the coaches. So it would make sense to implant an eight-hour-a-week rule in which coaches stay in contact with players while watching workouts, etc., but not conduct a formal practice. Basketball was able to implement a rule with a wider scope than this just last year. The time has come for football to do something similar albeit on a slightly smaller scale than basketball.

Max Olson: Rule

Unfortunately, my favorite silly NCAA rule has already crumbled. The Bagel Rule was an interpretation on an NCAA rule that permitted schools to provide “fruits, nuts and bagels at any time” as healthy snacks to student-athletes. About a month later, free bagel spreads and toppings -- cream cheese, peanut butter, jelly, lox, you name it -- were deemed prohibited.

No, seriously.

But now that rule has been struck down, which is really a victory for all student-athletes and perhaps also mankind. So I’ll go with a recruiting one:

This rule isn’t harmful. It’s just completely meaningless. It states that college coaches cannot issue a written scholarship offer to a recruit until Aug. 1 of their senior year. This rule was put in place to prevent early recruiting and slow down the college football recruiting machine. If a kid can’t get offered until Aug. 1, there’s no way he can commit early, right? Ha.

So, of course, college coaches have trampled this rule. Today scholarship offers are verbal promises, made over the phone or in person, and they’re just as meaningful to eighth-graders as 12th-graders.

Somehow, despite not getting paper offers in the mail, nearly 950 recruits have already made commitments in the Class of 2014. Nobody is waiting around to put these offers in ink. So why have a rule at all?