College football adjusts clock rule
Clock will start on snap, not change of possession
03:28 PM CST on Wednesday, February 14, 2007
By BRIAN DAVIS / The Dallas Morning News
Instant replay won't see any major changes this fall, but the NCAA football rules committee went back to the drawing board in its attempt to shorten games.
Last year, the committee voted to start the game clock on the change of possession instead of waiting for the snap. The change shaved minutes off an average game. But Rule 3-2-5-e also meant an average of six fewer plays per game than the previous season.
Mike Clark, the football rules committee chairman, announced a series of changes Wednesday that address dead time during a game while giving the offense more opportunities.
Starting this fall, the clock will begin on the snap — just as it did every year before 2006. Timeouts called by teams will be 30 seconds long instead of 65 seconds. The play clock will be only 15 seconds after a TV timeout.
Kickoffs will also be made from the 30-yard line instead of the 35. The move is designed to reduce touchbacks and "introduce a very exciting play" back into the game. Last year, the committee voted to shorten the kicking tee but that had a negligible effect on kickoffs.
"I think we're comfortable with the decision we've made now," said Clark, the coach at Division III Bridgewater College in Virginia. "We've got a balance with the idea being that we are attacking dead and elapsed time in the game while securing playing time not just for the players but for the fans."
Televised games in 2005 ran an average of 3 hours, 20 minutes, according to the NCAA. Non-televised games lasted 3:03. In 2006, an average Division I-A game lasted 3:07. Games in 2005 had an average of 70.6 offensive plays. That number fell to 64 in 2006.
Coaches didn't pull any punches last season when talking about the timing rules. It was also obvious they grappled with the strategy of using the clock rules to their advantage.
"I hate it," Texas coach Mack Brown said.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said fans who drive hours to a game weren't worried about sitting there. "I don't know if they come to see a quick game, a game to played in three hours," he said.
Oregon's Mike Bellotti, who sits on the committee, heard from his peers and was diplomatic Wednesday about their feelings.
"Basically most of the coaches were against the rule and felt it was unfair," Bellotti said.
The NCAA will adopt a NFL style of timing methods for the play clock starting in 2008, the committee announced. The play clock will be 40 seconds and will start at the end of the previous play.
The timing rules took up a bulk of the committee's time. But the committee also addressed instant replay. This season, officials will get no more than two minutes to examine a play.
Also, officials can now review whether a kickoff was muffed or fumbled, illegal participation and downs.