Gone is the five-yard penalty for an incidental grabbing of the facemask. Only a 15-yard penalty remains and although the exact wording of the new rule has yet to be released, it appears a facemask penalty will be called only when there is a pulling, twisting or turning of the head.
Deciding between a five and 15-yard penalty was often a judgment call and the new rule eliminates a gray area for officials. But how many facemask penalties could this involve? Marty at cfbstats.com, the ultimate site for college football stats junkies, was able to give us a look at facemask penalties the past three seasons. The data is graphically displayed above, but the season-by-season breakdown and totals go like this:
- In 2005, there were 188 five-yard facemask penalties (51.4%) called and 178 15 yarders (48.6%).
- In 2006, there were 198 five yarders (56.3%) and 154 15 yarders (43.7%).
- In 2007, there were 177 five yarders (50.3%) and 175 15 yarders (49.7%).
- Three-season totals: 1070 facemask penalties called, 563 (52.6%) were five yarders and 507 were 15 yarders (47.4%).