Update: An NCAA spokesperson has told ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura no such rule is being considered.
NCAA spokesman on the report of a possible rule change related to the North Texas punt return: "I’ll debunk the rumor … There is no rules change being considered."
— Kyle Bonagura (@BonaguraESPN) September 18, 2018
While North Texas taking it to Arkansas 44-17 was a surprise to most, the most surprising thing that happened on the field for the Mean Green that got everyone talking was their trick punt return, where they faked a fair catch.
As special teams coordinator Marty Biagi told SB Nation, they worked on perfecting the play for weeks, and to call it in a game still required all of the right ingredients from the absolute trust of the returner, to a low-flying punt.
It was a thing of beauty to see pulled off.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 15, 2018
However, as with most things coaches love, the NCAA is looking into putting a stop to it.
Tommy Craft of ESPN reports that the NCAA is considering an amendment of the current rules to “close any loophole” that would allow plays like this.
Was told earlier today that NCAA FB Rules committee is considering a rule amendment possibly as soon as this weekend to close any loophole that would allow a Punt Return similar to UNT’s 90 yd score vs ARK
— Tommy Craft (@tommycraftespn) September 17, 2018
From what I’m able to gather, the issue lies with the simulated fake fair catch, and a whistle not being required to consider a play dead. I can understand where some are coming from with concerns, as one can only imagine the reaction that a big hit in that circumstance, after the returner stood there for a few moments in a position many would consider ‘defenseless,” would have gotten from those in the stands, only for the officials to come out and say, “Hey! Uhm, there was no fair catch called.”
Credit Biagi, North Texas punt returner Keegan Brewer, and his teammates for pulling that one off without a hitch.
While there’s the report that the NCAA is looking into this being the last time we see a fake fair catch trick return, another national voice is stating that report is wrong.
I’m told by a person with knowledge of the situation this report is erroneous, FWIW https://t.co/RBZwhkN3qk
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) September 18, 2018
We’ll keep you in the loop on where this ends up going.