Spring football has been tried numerous times throughout the decades, and each iteration has brought its own unique set of rules. Whether it be the hybrid NFL/College rules set of the USFL or the fast-paced, high-scoring mentality of the Alliance of American Football introducing the 4th and 12 “onside conversion” (my personal favorite!) each league has created some buzz when their particular rules are released. The XFL announced their rule changes roughly a week ago, and after mulling over them, I wanted to cover some of my favorites.
The XFL announced their “innovations” with five changes in three areas. There are Five Gameplay Innovations that include, kickoff, Point After Touchdown, Punt, Double-Forward Pass, and Overtime. Five Timing Changes that include, 25-Second Play Clock, Comeback Period, Running Game Clock, Timeouts, and Replay Rulings. And finally, Five Common Sense Rules to include, One-Foot Inbounds, Ball-Spotting Official, Coach-Player Communications, Simplified Illegal Man Downfield, and Shorter Halftime. For the full list of rules, you can check them out here.
I want to spend a minute and highlight some of my personal XFL innovation favorites!
The XFL introduced a tier PAT system, and it adds a super unique touch to the gameplay and strategy. This innovation allows the scoring team to run a play from three different distances: the 2, 5, or 10 yards line. The scoring increases as the distance increase, allowing either 1, 2, or 3 point PATs, respectively. If a turnover occurs and the defending team returns the ball for a score, they receive the points that the offense was attempting. A quick example, if the scoring team opts for the 10-yard, 3-point play, and subsequently throws an interception that is returned for a score, the defending team is awarded the three points.
I love this scoring format and the opportunity it brings offensive coordinators! I hope we see some epic comebacks and some incredibly creative PAT plays!
Speaking of comebacks, let’s just jump right into this innovation.
- Occurs after the 2-Minute Warning in each half.
- On plays that end in the field of play, the game clock will be stopped until the ball has been spotted and 5 seconds have run off of the play clock.
- On incomplete passes and out of bounds plays, the game clock will stop completely until the ball is snapped.
- The most exciting part of the game is the end of each half, and the XFL aims to maximize this excitement. By stopping the game clock after every play, the team that is trailing has a clear way to maximize its remaining time and still have the ability to use its complete playbook, including runs or plays in the middle of the field.
- Also, a team cannot “run out the clock” at the end of the game until the opponent has no timeouts and there is 1 minute left (5 second run off on the play clock, so 20 seconds can be run off on a play), vs. the NFL, where a game can essentially be ended with 2 minutes left through three kneeldowns that each take 40 seconds off the play clock.
This seems to mimic the college football rule of the clock stopping on first downs to get the ball spotted. This leads to some pretty interesting end of games at the collegiate level. The XFL is doing what it can to keep people in the seats throughout the game, and what better way to do that than giving a clock advantage to the trailing team in a close game!
One Foot Inbounds
Did someone say collegiate level? Well, why not cover the one foot inbounds rule that the XFL and NCAA share! This is filed away as a “Common Sense Rule,” and I have to agree. Sure, the NFL’s two-foot rule is the logical progression from NCAA, but the XFL isn’t the NFL. Personally, I think the gameplay will be far more similar to college football, so why not leave some of the more fun elements in? I mean seriously, who doesn’t want to see Terry Godwin type one-handed endzone grabs? I sure do!
Those are far and away my favorite innovations on paper. I am very intrigued by the new kickoff and punt rules, but I will really need to see them in action. All things considered, I am extremely optimistic about the XFL and their unique ruleset. Perhaps, they will borrow from some of my favorite AAF rules in the future, but for now, I think they are on the right track!