Football on Sunday and football on Saturday are a little bit different, and Bill Belichick would like to change that.
Belichick, the Patriots coach who always has a keen understanding of the rulebook, said this week that he’d like the NFL to adopt the college pass interference rule, which caps penalties at 15 yards. And then Belichick proposed an interesting idea: He said college football and professional football should have the exact same rules.
“I think probably the one thing that is worth looking at is just the college pass interference rules,” Belichick told Rich Eisen. “I know why it’s what it is, and I also know why it’s different in college, and you could argue both sides of it. But it’s a big penalty, and sometimes those are just tough calls. So I think that’s worth looking at.
“I would say just in general, I would be in favor of the NCAA and the NFL trying to consolidate the rulebook to where we can have as many rules be the same as possible so that the fans, as well as the players who come from college, can make a clean transition into the same set of rules instead of different ones.
“So targeting’s targeting, holding’s holding, interference is interference, and so forth. As much as we could do that, I would be in favor of that just for the overall quality of the game. But I think the pass interference rule is not necessarily one I would change, but I would take a look at it, and I think it would be good if it was the same as the college rule — either they change it to ours or we change it to theirs, just from the standpoint of consistency.”
Among the key differences between college rules and NFL rules are that college receivers only have to get one foot inbounds, a college ball carrier is down when his knee touches the ground even if he hasn’t been touched by an opponent, wider hashmarks on the college field and a completely different approach to overtime. Many more minor rules and penalty enforcements are also different.
Belichick’s idea is worth exploring, but there’s plenty of stubbornness in both the college game and the pro game, and it seems like a long shot that either level of football would be willing to adapt its rules for the sake of consistency.