After a year of idiocy with new rules designed the speed up college football games in order to accommodate television schedules it appears the most damaging rules changes will be going by the wayside. The NCAA Rules Committee is recommending the elimination of the two worst rules changes that polluted college football last season.
The first is the rule that started the clock the moment the back was booted on kickoffs. The other rule started the clock once the ball was ready for play after changes of possession.
College football coaches were almost unanimous in their condemnation f the rules changes. First, on average the rules eliminated 14 plays per game. Secondly, the changes made it much more difficult for teams to come from behind late in games.
What Was Wrong with the Rules
Let’s look at each of the rules and their unintended impact. Starting the clock once the ball is kicked basically took away clock time when nothing could possibly happen. That is so anti-competitive it defies explanation. Additionally it allowed a team (Wisconsin) to kick out the clock, intentionally going so far offside on the kick it was impossible to return. 10 seconds or so run off and they re-kicked. Again, the end result of the rule changes was anti-competition.
The other rule just took plays away. Again, football competition was sacrificed for television programming convenience. I’ve been to quick football games and long ones, and I couldn’t really tell you which I enjoyed more. I’ve been the great games and lousy games and I have no problem telling you which is more entertaining.Fans go to games and often pay exorbitant prices for the privilege. To take game action away from them so coach potatoes don’t have to re-program their TIVO was wrong from day one and has been proven so with the implementation of these changes. The reversal of those moves will be good for college football.
New Speed-Up Suggestions Make Some Sense
The committee did come up with several proposals that could eliminate some of the down time during games and appear rather innocuous as to the impact on the competition nature of the games. One would shorten the play clock from 25 to 15 seconds after time outs. This makes perfect sense. You have the whole time out to call a play, so let’s snap the stinkin’ ball! Add up all the time outs for scores, TV and the line you get at least 20 a game, probably more. At ten seconds per that more than three minutes without affecting the number of plays at all.
The second suggestion would shorten team time outs from 65 to 30 seconds. Again, you could have up to a dozen of these a game so that could be six or seven minutes each contest. A third one would move kickoffs back to the 30-yard line and that makes sense. Kickoff returns are much more entertaining than touchbacks, and would also speed up the game. That’s a clear win-win proposition.
The committee also suggested limiting replay reviews to 2:00 but I think that’s absurd. You don’t want such decisions made while sand is pouring through the hourglass. It would be better to monitor replay officials and train them better to get the job done more quickly.
These changes look likely to save at least to ten minutes a game without taking a single play away from the competition itself. Since last year’s changes saved an average of 14 minutes a game, let’s split the four minutes and call it a day, can’t we?
The rule changes won’t be official until March 12th when the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel (and you thought Congress was a bureaucratic mess!) votes on the Rules Committee’s recommendations. All indications are the changes will go through and college football fans will be the biggest winners.