Punctuality has never been my strong point. Regular readers will have grown accustomed to the somewhat loose interpretation of "Monday" and "Morning" I keep with respect to my Sentimonies. So it should come as no surprise that while the rest of the journalistic world has moved on to the CFL Combine, I show up fashionably late to discuss the proposed rule changes. Well to be fair the word "fashionable" is not often used to describe me. Let's go with "disheveled and late".
On to the rules...
Let me preface my thoughts by saying that I am a fair bit of a traditionalist when it comes to rule changes. I see nothing wrong with the game of football and think this cycle we have gotten into where some rules have to change every year is ridiculous. I have nothing against minor tweaks here and there provided they don't fundamentally alter the game... with the exception of my ongoing campaign to have the referees ride ostriches.
1. Converts - Let's get to the big ones right away. As I mentioned, my preference is not changing rules but that said, I can live with what has been proposed (i.e. 1 pt converts from the 32 or 2 pt converts from the 3). It doesn't fundamentally change the scoring system and a 32 yard kick should be routine (unless you name is Milo and there is a goal post in the stadium). Gives the incentive to try more 2 pt converts (especially when the weather goes to hell). My major problem with this is that I used to used the extra point to give myself an extra bit of time for a bathroom/drink run so I don't miss anything. Don't they take my needs into consideration?
2. As for the "trial" of a 3 point convert in preseason, the whole idea is idiotic. You can't just magically invent a new scoring play. Any team that even attempts one in preseason should be booed off the field as should anyone involved with thinking it was a good idea even to try it.
3. Illegal contact - The theme of this year's proposals is "massive overreaction". Scoring was down but the rules had nothing to do with it so trying to fix a non-rule problem with rules is a head shaker to me but I digress. Provided they don't call every single tiny infraction, I don't hate the rule but mark my word: Illegal contact penalties will skyrocket early in the season. Remember how they tried to fix the return game by expanding illegal block penalties and all that resulted was a crap load of illegal block penalties? Same thing here. Defenders won't magically undo years of training just because the rules changed. I don't mind the theory behind this one but in the short term I see this causing issues.
4. Only refs be able to call for measurements - Here's one I actually like a lot. Most of the time of coach is calling for a measurement he doesn't give a crap about the actual measurement but just wants the extra time without having to call a timeout.
5. Coaches can now signal no substitutions and run a hurry up - Again, I like it. Allows for the game to naturally speed up and allows for actual hurry up offenses, not the current "hurry to the line and then wait 15 seconds for the ref to signal in the play.
6. Eliminating the option to force a re-kick on a kick out of bounds leaving only the option to take the ball where it went out or 30 yards up from where it was kicked - I'm indifferent on this one. Sometime that second kick when defenders are a bit gassed is when you see bigger plays but I get the idea of wanting to reduce unneeded repetitious plays.
7. Offensive pass interference now challengeable - A very logical move. Seemed dumb to me to allow defensive PI to be reviewed but not offensive. I still have issues with the challenge system, based mostly on the lack of consistency in review outcomes last year but if you are going to allow PI to be challenged, makes sense to me that it goes both ways.
8. Five yards no yards tacked on to the return as opposed to a spot foul - No a huge fan of this but don't hate it either. I see the logic in it but didn't see a burning need for change.
9. Inside 5 guys on punts can't cross the line until the ball is kicked. I like kick return TDs as much as the next guy (well minus those 8 dozen the Riders gave up last year) but I hope the CFL realizes that if they make them too common, the excitement will wear off. Not that I think this will drastically change things, just a little bit. I can live with this change I guess. The coach in me would immediately start watching film for any team that shows a tendency for not rushing the punter inside because they don't have to hold up the inside 5 guys. This may open up chance for fakes/runs up the middle. As I type this I have this sinking feeling that 4 months from now I will be cursing at Bob Dyce saying "I warned you that would happen!"
Overall though the changes are many, most are either good or something I can live with. Though I seriously think we should put a cap on the number of changes to the rules within a 5 year period. At this pace, 7 years from now I will watch a 15 point TD followed by an 4.7 point convert attempt where no defender can even look in the direction of the intended receiver. Avert your eyes!