As part of its annual media days, the Big 12 announced Monday a new rule limiting full contact days during football season. The 10 members teams are now permitted two days of full, helmet-to-helmet contact per week - and that includes game day. This leaves teams with two days of full-padded practice during fall camp and off weeks, and one such day during a game week. The rule goes into effect beginning with fall camp.
"Our policy is a 33-percent reduction in the number of contact opportunities allowed under NCAA guidelines," commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a statement. "Limiting the number of live contact practices and giving medical practitioners unchallengeable authority on return to play decisions unequivocally demonstrates the commitment of our membership to the health and safety of Big 12 student-athletes. I applaud our athletics directors on implementing an industry leading approach."
For a conference that is already highly concentrated on spread, finesse offenses, it will be interesting to track how - if at all - the new rule affects play on the field. Big 12 coaches aren't usually in the habit of voluntarily walking themselves into a competitive disadvantage.
Only moments before announcing the new rule, Bowlsby criticized his conference's performance last season; the Big 12 posted a 2-5 bowl mark in 2014-15. “We got left out. We need to be in a constant improvement mode. We need to play better," he said. "We need to get better in every single way."