As we approach the beginning of the college football season, now seems like as good a time as any to revisit a few of the rule changes that the NCAA’s Football Playing Rules Oversight Panel put into place for the 2010 campaign.
From what I’ve seen throughout my years as a sports enthusiast, it seems that most rule changes fall into one of two distinct categories:
- To promote fairness/equality/or help level the playing field, or
- To promote the safety of the competitors
In the upcoming weeks, we’ll take a look at a couple of rule changes for the 2010 football season that fall into one or both of those categories, but for today, we’re going to focus on the one rule change to major college football that simply makes you shake your head and wonder how in the world we ever got to a point where it was necessary to create a rule about this silly stuff in the first place.
Following the lead of the National Football League, the NCAA has banned the use of eye black containing any words, numbers, or symbols, effective at the start of the 2010 season. The rule also states that there may not be any words, numbers, or symbols on a player’s person or tape (other than game information on a player’s wrist or forearm).
Though it is difficult to pinpoint the exact time in which the eye black messages became a major trend, but one would be hard pressed to find anyone more responsible for the boom of the recent fad than former Southern California running back Reggie Bush, who just so happens to be in the news quite a bit these days for some other things that occurred during his playing days in LA.
Bush, if you will recall, famously wore the numbers “619”on both pieces of eye black, representing his hometown of Spring Valley, California. The electric running back likely had no idea what kind of fashion statement he was making at the time, but in the years that followed, we as college football fans were privvy to a look into the minds and hearts of what motivates some of the game’s most colorful and most talented performers.
Eye black messages have allowed us to see wonderful tributes to young fans from the likes of former USC quarterback Mark Sanchez, who wore the name of a 15 year-old California boy who suffered from bone cancer as inspiration. We’ve also seen some ill-advised advertising from the likes of Jimmy Clausen, who wore the Adidas symbol on his eye black for a period of time. And, we’ve witnessed plenty of fools make themselves look rather silly with messages such as “Google Me,” “Feel Me,” and even some in support of fallen heroes.
Most recently, of course, we all witnessed Tim Tebow’s spiritual messages via certain Bible verses worn under his eyes during his time as a Florida Gator. In fact, according to the Florida Times-Union, it very well could have been Tebow’s impact that led the NCAA to enforce the rule on eye black at all.
Tebow wore his first message against LSU in 2008, writing Phil 4:13 (for Philippians 4:13), and did it the rest of his career. He was criticized by opposing fans and some members of the media for it, but there is no doubt that it has had a profound effect on people. He wore John 3:16 for the BCS National Championship game in January 2009, and the verse was the most-searched item on Google the next morning.
But there won’t be any more eye black messages on Saturdays now, either, because the NCAA’s Playing Rules Oversight Panel voted on Thursday to prohibit words, numbers, logos or symbols on eye black. It will take effect in the 2010 season.
Naturally, it has been dubbed the Tim Tebow Rule.
The NCAA, for it’s part, denies that any one student-athlete in particular caused the rule to take effect; however, what we’re left with now is, unfortunately, an upcoming season full of Saturdays where we won’t quite know which players to Google, which ones to Feel, or which ones support dog fighting. It’s quite unfortunate if I must say so myself.
So, TGR folks, my question to you is this: If your tailgate association allowed you to wear a message on your eye black, what kind of message would you send?
“Beer Please”? “Win City”? “Buffet Monster”?
Let’s hear who you would rep in the comments.