The NCAA last night greatly simplified the college football coaching profession by giving final approval to the most liberal substitution rule since 1952.
Under the new rule a coach will be allowed unlimited substitution whenever the clock is stopped, and two substitutions on any down, even when it is running. The only restriction to completely unlimited substitution is a provision that a team must use one of its times out to put in more than two players when the clock is operating.
The ruling is a victory for the coaches, who were nearly unanimous in asking that the 1963 omnibus substitution regulations be repealed by the rules committee.
Last summer, before the nearly insoluble intricacies of the rule became obvious even to dates, the Ivy League coaches unsuccessfully petitioned the rules committee for permission to experiment with a rule allowing unlimited substitution whenever the ball changed hands.
Coach John Yovicsin last night expressed great satisfaction with the new regulation and predicted that everyone would enjoy the game more next Fall. Yovicsin said that now the coaches would be able to coach and the officials officiate rather than waste time on bookkeeping. Spectators can look forward to more wide-open tactics.
Just about no one really understood the 1963 law and practically every coach in college football inadvertently violated one of its provisions at some time during the season.
It may have cost Harvard the Ivy Championship by forcing the Crimson to exhaust its precious supply of timeouts on illegitimate substitutions during the second half of the Columbia game. Harvard fans recall with some displeasure the frantic efforts of quarterback Mike Bassett to get the ball in play at the end of that game with only a short distance to the endzone remaining.
The new rule undoubtedly will revive the three-platoon approach made popular by Paul Dietzel at LSU. In the Ivy League both Dartmouth and Penn have used this system, and Tom Harp, Cornell's coach, became acquainted with it while he was at Army.
Yoviscin doubts that Harvard will have enough of the right kind of players to make three-platooning feasible in Cambridge, but he looks forward to employing more specialists on the 1964 Crimson team.