Some things say in the NCAA rulebook. Others go. It's the annual discussion by the association's playing rules oversight panel, which approved two rules changes Thursday for next season – and a third starting in 2011.
Starting next season, eye black with messages with be disallowed during games – something University of Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said had little impact on his players.
The other amendment – eliminating the wedge block during kickoff returns – does directly affect the team's special-team schemes.
"The second half of the year (in 2009), we became a wedge kickoff return team, which the majority of our conference is," Sarkisian said. "That affected us. We'll have to change schemes – not completely but subtly."
According to the new "wedge block" rule, a kickoff unit cannot have two players standing within a couple of yards from each other, shoulder to shoulder. If found in violation of the rule, a 15-yard penalty will be assessed.
The amount of concussions suffered during kickoffs were the reason for the change. It's a rule the NFL implemented starting last season.
Whatever blocking scheme Sarkisian and special teams coordinator Johnny Nansen settle on – the coach did not care to discuss specifics after practice Thursday – it could affect the return personnel.
"As we adjust our returns," the UW coach said, "some guys might be a little better than others."
The rule that might have caught the staff's attention the most is the one approved to 2011: Taunting.
As the rule states now, players flagged for taunting during a scoring play are given a 15-yard penalty on the point-after attempt or the ensuring kickoff.
But in 2011, if that happens, scoring plays will be wiped off the board.
"It kind of hits you. You can put in a lot of time, a lot of effort, a lot of work and a guy (officiating crew member) makes a decision because he think a guy is high-stepping, or taunting or diving into the end zone," Sarkisian said. "That could cost you a touchdown. That could cost you to win a football game. That is concerning. we're going to have to address it, and address it hard."
UW receivers coach Jimmie Dougherty, the one assistant who most cherishes an opportunity to enthusiastically cheer a great play with the players, said the new celebration rules has gotten his attention.
"I think you always want to be enthusiastic about the game. You've got to be careful, it's a fine line," Dougherty said. "You want guys to have fun, be loose and enjoy playing the game, but at the same time, never do anything that will potentially hurt the team. That's above anything. You've got to play by the rules."
Reminded the call will be a subjective one made by referees, Dougherty shot a wide grin.
"It's always interesting. They always have to do something to (football). They change it every year. I don't know why they change it, it's the greatest game out there," Dougherty saidl. "But we'll be on our guys. It's a huge call. You can lose a game by it now."
Other items:• Not much change on the injury front. Running back Chris Polk (shoulder), receiver D'Andre Goodwin (hamstring), cornerback Desmond Trufant (groin), linebacker Brandon Huppert (knee) and offensive tackle Cody Habben (shoulder) all continued to do light work, including stairs-running, on the side.
Receiver Jordan Polk (hamstring) rested after having a great workout Tuesday, and offensive guard Gregory Christine (turf toe) tried to go early in practice Thursday, but was mainly a spectator.• Perhaps a new safety with a lot of pop is starting to emerge – redshirt freshman Will Shamburger.
In a series of team drills, Shamburger decked tight end Chris Izbicki on a hard tackle that could be heard up from the stands at Husky Stadium. Seconds later, it was another tight end – Marlion Bennett – who went down hard after a Shamburger hit.
And when freshman running back Jesse Callier tried to stiff-arm Shamburger on a play in the backfield, Shamburger won the battle. He took him to the turf.
All this coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee while playing basketball at St. John Bosco (Calif.) nearly 14 months ago. He is still sporting a supportive brace.
"He's had a nice second quarter of spring," Sarkisian said. "I thought the first three days or so, he might have been a little bit tentative, a little bit hesitanta coming off his injury. The last four practices, he's been really productive, not just his in movement, he's shown a physicality in his play that is catching everybody's attention. The offensive players, too, they don't like getting hit by the guy. We're extremely excited. It's a huge addition for us."• UW men's basketball coach Lorenzo Romar, who was part of Clarence Trent's transition to football, said Thursday he was "a little surprised" he left the new sport after a week of spring ball.
"It was probably a little overwhelming for him at the time," Romar said. "The main thing is, he hadn't played in a while. At least on a basketball floor, things don't go your way, every once in a while, you get a steal, you get a dunk to mentally recover, at least. Out there on the football field, he hadn't got to the point where he experienced any success yet. The coaches weren't exactly sugar-coating their coaching. It was a little tough for him – all at once. If he stayed with, gotten over the hump, I'm sure he would have been fine."• NOTES: Callier did break off an 80-yard touchdown run in the team session off a right sweep. … Catch of the day belonged to Devin Aguilar, who had to extend his whole body in hauling in a Jake Locker pass in the middle of the field – good for 30 yards. … A slow start for kicker Erik Folk? He was 2-of-6 on field goals Thursday, and stayed after for extra work. He was 1-of-4 Tuesday. Nobody is panicking, however. … The UW will start hosting its annual spring coaches clinic starting Friday. It runs through Saturday. … Sarkisian said practice Saturday will be mostly that, with some "scrimmage aspects" at the end of workouts. … Ex-UW quarterback Sonny Sixkiller attended practice Thursday. … More 80s and 90s music has been blaring at UW practice. Sarkisian quipped it was "Throwback Thursday" on the tunes.