NCAA Implements Rules Changes for NU vs Illinois

Changes are intended for player safety

By Andrew Greiner
|  Friday, Nov 19, 2010  |  Updated 12:55 PM CDT
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Wrigley Field is not designed for football games.

The way it's set up, the east side end zone butts directly against a brick wall.

Apparently the NCAA is just figuring this out.

The collegiate football organization Friday announced a number of rules changes for the Northwestern Illinois vs. University of Illinois game at Wrigley Field on Saturday.

In an effort to keep players from pinballing head first off said brick wall when going for a highlight reel back of the end zone grab, the NCAA decided that teams will only use one end zone for the scoring. The one time rules changes read like this:

1)    All offensive plays will head toward the West end zone, including all extra points and all overtime possessions.

2)    All kickoffs will be kicked toward the East end zone.

3)    After every change of possession, the ball will be repositioned for the offense to head toward the West end zone.

4)    As a result of a coin toss held by the conference office Friday morning, Illinois will occupy the West team bench in the first half and Northwestern will occupy the West team bench in the second half and for all overtime periods.

It will be strange to see officials stopping play, picking up the ball and moving to another side of the field. And it will be strange to see teams switch benches at half time. But Big Ten big wigs want to protect their players.

“The health and safety of our student-athletes is of the utmost importance,” said Big Ten Commissioner James E. Delany. “Both Illinois and Northwestern did significant due diligence over the past 18 months, but after seeing the actual layout of the field, all parties felt that it was appropriate to adjust the rules to further enhance the safety of our student-athletes.

 Wrigley Field is one of the most historic venues in the country, and playing the Illinois-Northwestern game at this facility will provide a once-in-a-lifetime experience for student-athletes, coaches and fans.”

The Chicago Cubs released a statement shortly after the announcement.

“The Chicago Cubs are surprised by the Big Ten’s last-minute statement regarding changes for tomorrow’s Northwestern-Illinois football game at Wrigley Field.  Let there be no doubt: the safety of the student-athletes has been – and remains – the number one priority since the concept of this game was first discussed more than a year ago, and all parties have gone to complete lengths to ensure student-athlete safety for this contest. "

They said they've reached out to the Big Ten.

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