The major league baseball season has reached the halfway point and then some, so that means it's nearly football time, sports fans.
Yes, the college teams and professional teams will be starting work soon to get ready for the campaign that begins in August and winds up in January.
The NCAA football rules have been changed a bit for player safety, and we will see something new in the kicking game, especially punting.
Seems more and more teams are starting to use rugby-style kickers. That is, after taking the snap from center for a punt, the kicker runs left or right and punts the ball on the move, rugby style.
Punters who use the traditional kicking method of taking the long snap, dropping and kicking the ball will not have to concern themselves with the new ruling.
The rugby-style kickers, however, who carry the ball outside the newly defined area called the tackle box, will not receive the same protection as the regular punter. In other words, he is fair game to be blocked or tackled.
To understand the new rule better, one must know what the tackle box is. The tackle box - pay attention here - is a rectangular area enclosed by the neutral zone, two lines parallel to the sidelines five yards from the snapper and team A's end line.
The width of the tackle box is a fixed distance although most guards and tackles will be within the box. When a team has wide splits in the line or an unbalanced line, a tackle may well be outside the tackle box.
Now, to the rugby-style kicker. The advent of the new style has altered the balance between the offense and defense on punt plays. In an effort to restore that balance, kickers who carry the ball outside the tackle box lose protection provided as a kicker.
All kickers are protected from personal fouls but running into a rugby-style kicker outside the tackle box will not be a foul unless is involves a mask penalty or flagrant foul.
Flagrant fouls that result in a player being disqualified now are subject to automatic television reviews.
Offensive teams used to have seven players on the line but now can have no more than four in the backfield as long as there are at least five players wearing jerseys numbered 50-79 on the line.
The requirement for visiting teams to wear white jerseys has been modified. When approved by the conference office and agreed to by both teams, colored jerseys may be worn by visiting teams as long as they are clearly contrasting in color.
There are other revisions of the play clock, face mask fouls and blocking zone and, oh, yes, one more: Restriction that gloves or hand pads must be gray has been modified. The new rule only requires gray on the back, including backs of fingers.
Now that you have the new NCAA rules, sit back, relax and enjoy the game.
Even though the University of Washington's football squad lost all 12 games last year, they are a hot television squad. The Huskies will be on ESPN Sept. 5 against LSU and the time will be 7:30 p.m. They will be on ABC Sept. 19 against USC, a 12:30 p.m. kickoff. Four other appearances are set:
_ Sept. 12 - versus Idaho, 12:30 p.m. on FSN Northwest
_ Oct. 3 - at Notre Dame on NBC
_ Oct. 17 - at Arizona State FSN national
_ Dec. 5 - versus California FSN
Speaking of football, mark Sept. 11 on the sports calendar. On 9-11 is the big rivalry as Port Angeles visits Sequim for high school action.
Coach Eric Wiker's team will be hosting the Riders of new coach Dick Abrams and Abrams has no idea of what this contest means to coaches, players, students and fans of both schools.
Better plan on getting there early for best seats.
The Olympic Peninsula baseball season winds down this weekend as the 14-and-under Junior Babe Ruth tournament opened Tuesday at Volunteer Field in Port Angeles.
Three of the 10 state teams are from this area, Sequim, Port Angeles and North Kitsap, so get out and support the squads this week. Play begins at 9 a.m. each day with final games of the day at 5 p.m. as Volunteer Field has no lights as yet.
These kids put on a good show and you will be hearing about them in the next few years as they advance through the high school ranks.