Saturday, September 02, 2006

Tick Tock

In an effort to shorten the length of college football games, the NCAA made a few rules changes during the summer that have been glossed over by analysts thus far. On kickoffs this season, the clock will start when the ball is kicked rather than when the ball is received. Secondly, and more significantly, on all changes of possession, the clock will start as soon as the ball is signalled ready for play rather than when it is snapped.

These new rules won't have a major impact during the general course of the game, however where they will rear their ugly heads is during the last two minutes when a team is trying to rally from behind. Those magical moments of a team in a two minute drill working for that miracle win are going to be fewer and farther between because there are going to be too many opportunities for a leading team to drain the clock without even snapping the ball. Even if a trailing team has its full complement of timeouts, it won't have the option of kicking away after a score in the last minute, because the new clock rules provide the leading team with four chances to run the clock before punting. It won't be long (perhaps today) when the game clinchng play will be taking a delay of game after a kickoff or punt. Feel the excitement!

There's an easy fix to this rule, and the NCAA needs only to look to the NFL to find the solution. A few years ago, the NFL was concerned about the increasing length of games and decided that if a player goes out of bounds, the clock will stop momentarily, but would resume as soon as the ball was ready for play. The NFL however had foresight that the NCAA lacked, and so they stipulated that this timing rule would not be in effect during the last five minutes of each half. This rule has had its desired effect- games have shortened, however there's been minimal impact on the integrity of the game.

I don't know if there has ever been a rule changed midseason, but if there ever was one deserving of immediate change, it's this one. College can start running the clock on a change of possession for 50 of the 60 minutes. but the last five minutes of a half is not the time to eliminate plays. Unfortunately, I don't see the Powers That Be taking any action until after the season. Well, unless the rule somehow stymies a late rally by Notre Dame, in which case there will be an emergency meeting by the NCAA to make sure such a travesty never happens again.


At Sat Sep 02, 09:23:00 PM PDT , Anonymous Pacifist Viking said...

Must they stop the clock to reset after every first down? Is that really necessary? All these other rules seem unnecessary if they would just keep the clock going on a first down like the big boys manage to do.

At Sat Sep 02, 09:32:00 PM PDT , Anonymous insomniac. said...

I agree 100%. That solution was apparantly too straight-forward and logical for the NCAA's liking.


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