Coffin-corner punts could become illegal

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:10 AM ET

The Canadian Football League is considering a rule change to prevent teams from punting balls out of bounds between the 20-yard lines.

George Black, the CFL's director of officiating, told the Toronto Sun yesterday, the proposed change is one of 10 that will be addressed tomorrow by the rules committee during league meetings this week in Toronto.

"That's the big one that will generate most of the discussions," Black said.

KEEP BALL IN PLAY

Black would not go into the specifics of the rule change other than to say it's to encourage the kicking team to put the ball in play instead of deliberately angling for the sidelines. Black noted the proposal has stipulations that allow for the ball to bounce in play before going out of bounds and to be kicked out of bounds in the air inside the 20-yard lines.

"I don't know whether (the proposal) will pass, but it's worth a try," Black said. "The officiating staff has put a lot of thought into it and we'll see how it goes."

In the past two seasons, teams deliberately have been punting out of bounds to prevent possible returns, even at the expense of giving up field position. B.C. tried this strategy regularly in the Grey Cup two years ago against the Argos and it contributed significantly to the Lions' loss.

The quality of returners in the league is high, and fans are upset that kicking out of bounds is sapping excitement out of the games. Black said the idea for the possible change came from fan input and a couple of teams.

"I must have had 30 or 40 e-mails (from fans), some are real students of the game," he said. "We're just trying to make the game better."

Black also said the league will continue dialogue this week on adopting video replay this season, although no decision will be made until final ratification by the board of governors, likely in the middle of March.

"All the ducks are lined up to make it work," Black said.

There are, however, some outstanding issues, such as the number of timeouts teams would be allowed per game and the time allowed for each. Currently, teams are allowed one 30-second timeout per half. In the video replay system, a team risks losing a timeout if it challenges a play and the play is upheld after the referee views the replays. If the play is overturned, the challenging team does not lose the timeout.


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