COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Due in part to Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor, college players will no longer be allowed to use eyeblack to show their allegiances to Bible verses, their hometown area codes or pro quarterbacks who promoted dogfighting.

The new NCAA rule bans any lettering or messages on eyeblack and starts with the 2010 college season.

“I think that’s because of me,” Pryor said with a laugh. “You can’t even have the Block O. … But I think it’s taking away from the game and the fun of the game.”

Florida quarterback Tim Tebow put inspirational Bible verses on his eyeblack. Pryor displayed his support for Michael Vick, the NFL signal-caller who missed two years after going to prison for his role in a dogfighting ring. Others painted their three-digit area codes on their eyeblack patches as a mark of hometown pride.

Now the NCAA says no messages of any kind are allowed.

“Abuse brings control,” said Ohio State coach Jim Tressel. “I guess the feeling is it was abused as to the intent of having eyeblack. So now we can’t even have a logo.”

Another new rule, perhaps the most controversial, will not be enforced until fall 2011.

Players caught taunting an opponent on their way to the end zone currently draw a 15-yard penalty on the extra point attempt or ensuing kickoff. But beginning next fall, live-ball penalties will be assessed from the spot of the foul and the score will be wiped off the board. This means players will no longer high-step into the end zone or point the ball at an opponent without ramifications.

“I’m for the rules,” Tressel said. “Nothing disappoints me more than someone doing something that brings attention solely to themselves when this is such a team game. So the fact that we’re emphasizing that doesn’t bother me a bit.”

Another change at the college level bans blocking in a wedge on kickoff and punt returns, another step in the ongoing battle to lessen the number of concussions in the game.

At the pro level, among the major changes is a redo of the overtime procedure in the postseason.

Since the implementation of sudden death in 1974, the team that was lucky enough to win the coin flip at the outset of overtime had an advantage. Starting with the 2010 season, if a team losing the coin toss immediately gives up a field goal, it still gets a chance to score and either tie it or win — but only in the playoffs.

The NFL had banned wedge blocks a year ago. In a further effort to reduce concussions, it has added safeguards to protect defenseless players, most notably receivers.

Concussions are also a central part of new rules at the high school level.

Effective this fall, any player who shows signs, symptoms or behaviors associated with a concussion must be removed from the game and cannot return until cleared by an appropriate health care professional.

The concussion rule was one of 12 changes approved by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Football Rules Committee. The Ohio High School Athletic Association adheres to the same rules as the national association.

There are also some minor equipment rules for high school teams, a clarification of the horse-collar (tackling) rule and a modification of a rule regarding penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct fouls on plays resulting in a touchdown.


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