The Gray Area of Pick Plays in College Football

25 January 2023

College football is a sport that many know and love due to its hard hits, swift gameplay, and competitive rivalries. Yet what’s often overlooked in the game are the legal complexities of certain plays; pick plays being one prime example. These rub routes involve two or more players collaborating to impede defenders so as to give their teammates an open opportunity for either catching a pass or running for yardage. But can these efforts be used without consequence? Surprisingly enough, it isn’t such a simple answer!

College football coaches, players, and officials often debate the legality of pick plays – a strategy that is commonplace. However, according to NCAA rules, any action taken by an athlete that interacts with another player’s capacity to take part in the game is outlawed.

According to the rulebook, there are certain criteria that must be adhered to concerning physical contact on the field. These include prohibiting activities such as blocking below the waist, clipping, and using one’s body for impeding an opponent’s progress. On the other hand, it is permissible for incidental contact; a player may use his hands or arms in order to ward off an adversary who attempts at preventing him from securing possession of a pass.

The Gray Area of Pick Plays

When it boils down to what is considered “incidental contact” and illegal plays such as clipping, blocking below the waist, and using one’s body to impede an opponent’s progress, there can be a bit of gray area. It all depends on how the official interprets pick plays that involve players pushing or rubbing defenders out of their way with their hands and arms. What may seem legal in some eyes could appear against regulations for others.

The ambiguity around pick plays can leave coaches, players, and fans feeling befuddled and exasperated. Some argue that the plays are an integral part of the sport and should remain legal, while others insist it is a hazardous and unethical tactic that ought to be prohibited.

The Impact of Pick Plays

Decisive play-calling can drastically influence the outcome of a game; offensive gains, quarterback protection from pass rushers, and even injuries to defenders who find themselves between two players on rub routes are just some examples. When executed correctly, pick plays to have tremendous power in altering the course of a match.

Not only are pick plays potentially hazardous, but they can also be sources of tension and discord among coaches, players, and referees. If a referee deems the play illegal, it may result in setbacks for yards gained or even a turnover – which could dramatically alter the outcome of any given game. This can often stir up fierce debates on the field as well as within locker rooms afterward.

The Future of Pick Plays

As college football progresses, rules and regulations concerning pick plays must also move with the times. The NCAA may decide to refine its guidelines on these moves so that referees have an easier time judging them accurately. However, for the sake of fair play and athlete safety, it is conceivable that they could ultimately choose to outlaw this type of maneuver altogether.

Ultimately, the legality of pick plays in college football remains a complex topic that continues to be discussed among coaches, players, and officials. Although these plays can prove advantageous for offenses occasionally, they also raise questions about player safety. As the sport evolves over time, it’ll be intriguing to see how rules regarding pick plays may transform or adapt accordingly.