The Boise State football program dodged one NCAA uniform rule and ran into another one Thursday.
The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel decided not to adopt a proposal to prohibit teams from wearing jersey-pants combinations that match their playing surface. So Boise State will be able to wear all-blue uniforms on the blue turf in any game it wants this season.
The Mountain West, which included a similar stipulation in the Broncos' membership agreement that didn't allow them to wear all blue for league home games the past two seasons, lobbied on Boise State's behalf. The conference already had rescinded its all-blue prohibition for the 2013 season.
The PROP said the rule proposed by the Football Rules Committee, which would have affected teams such as Eastern Washington and Oregon, too, "did not enhance the image of the game."
"I think they've finally come to their senses," coach Chris Petersen said. "I think there's other things we need to pay attention to and worry about that are more important than what color uniform guys are wearing."
Still, the Broncos aren't completely in the clear.
The PROP clarified a rule on jersey numbers that requires them to "be of one solid color that itself is clearly in distinct contrast with the color of the jersey, irrespective of any border around the number."
The Broncos' blue jerseys would violate this rule but they are scheduled to receive new blue and white jerseys this season anyway.
Their black jerseys, which debuted last season, also present an issue. The numbers fade from blue to white. Boise State plans to use those jerseys, Petersen said. He's hoping for some sort of exemption for existing jerseys.
Other rules approved:
Players who target and contact defenseless players above the shoulders will be ejected. If the foul occurs in the first half, the player will miss the rest of the game. If it happens in the second half or overtime, the player also will miss the first half of the next game. The ejection portion of the penalty is subject to replay review.
Blocks below the waist will be allowed only by "stationary players in typical line play."
A 10-second runoff with less than a minute remaining in a half will be added when the clock is stopped for an injury.
A minimum of 3 seconds must be on the clock in order to spike the ball to stop the clock. If there's less time, the offense can only run a play.
A player who changes numbers during the game must report to the referee, who will announce it.
Teammates no longer can share numbers.
On-field officiating crews can use electronic communication.
Instant replay can be used to adjust the clock at the end of each quarter. Before, that was only allowed for each half.
REPORT: ESPN WILL HAVE RIGHTS TO HOME GAMES
According to a report from one of ESPN's own, the network will soon be the place to catch Boise State's home football games on television.
ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy reported Thursday that ESPN and the Mountain West are close to agreeing to a deal for the next seven seasons, through the 2019-20 academic year. McMurphy stated that the league would have up to 22 football games a year carried on the ESPN family of networks. It would have the rights to all Boise State home games.
The Mountain West said in December that football teams which appear on national television (ESPN or ESPN2 fall into that category) would get $300,000 per game, and an additional $200,000 if those games are on Saturdays. That means $3 million to Boise State if all six home games in 2013 are played on Saturdays on ESPN or ESPN2, though that scenario isn't likely.
McMurphy said the new deal, in addition to an existing agreement with CBS Sports Network that runs through the 2015-16 season, would increase the payout to a total of about $18 million a year to the league's schools. The bonus structure is taken out of that figure for each school, then distributed among the league. The current television contract pays schools about $800,000 each.
The league and ESPN are still negotiating the price of a conference championship game, which would provide further revenue for the league's schools.
The Big East, which Boise State spurned in order to remain in the Mountain West, recently agreed to a contract with ESPN for $20 million a year, which is about $2 million per school.
Also part of the deal with ESPN is a big boost to the league's basketball viewership, with up to 25 games appearing on the network's channels. Though the conference has been ranked No. 1 or 2 in the RPI this season, Mountain West games have been on hard-to-find channels or have not been televised at all.
SPRING SCHEDULE SET
Boise State will practice 15 times from Monday to April 15. The only workout open to the public is the Spring Game at 5 p.m. April 13 at Bronco Stadium. The Broncos will hold a closed scrimmage March 22 before leaving for spring break.
Redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Adam Sheffield is no longer with the team. He is the sixth of 19 players in the 2011 recruiting class to leave the program early.
Walk-on nickel Hilton Richardson, the former minor-league baseball player who had never played football before joining the Broncos in 2011, has left the team.
UP TO SPEED
The Broncos have held player-run practices twice a week to get ready for spring ball. They also work out four days a week with the strength and conditioning staff.
"This year's brand of Broncos is going to be very fast," senior left tackle Charles Leno Jr. said Thursday. "And we're always going to be physical. But I'll say this year is probably one of the fastest groups we've ever had."
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398; Dave Southorn: 377-6420