Coaches take issue with game clock rule changes

Updated: August 9, 2006, 11:36 AM ET news services

The NCAA rules committee approved eight rules changes in May that will take effect for the 2006 college football season. And while the amendments range from the mundane (shortening halftime) to the marked (instant replay will be used throughout Division I-A for the first time), it's a rule change governing the game clock that has aroused some coaches' ire.

According to Rule 3-2-5, the game clock will start as soon as the ball is kicked in a kickoff situation. Previously, the clock would only start once the receiving team touched the ball. In addition, Rule 3-2-5-e states that, after a team gets a first down, the clock will begin running again on the ready-for-play signal. Previously, the clock did not resume until the team snapped the ball.

While the rationale behind the changes was to shorten the game, that explanation has done little to quell the outrage of some coaches.

"I am appalled at the rule changes," Oregon coach Mike Bellotti told USA Today. "They are major and very severe and will change the game as we know it."

Many coaches believe these changes will eliminate 10 to 15 plays per game.

"I think it will help the underdog teams," South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier told USA Today. "If you're the underdog, obviously you would like fewer plays in the game."

Penn State coach Joe Paterno brought out another perhaps unintended effect of the new rule.

"When you kick the ball, [the clock] starts. Kick it out of bounds with 8-10 seconds to go, the game's over," Paterno said to USA Today. "We've got to expose our kids to it in preseason practice."

Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville, who sits on the NCAA rules committee, tried to answer some of the criticisms offered by his colleagues.

"We weren't looking to take plays away from the game," Tuberville told USA Today. "We were looking to … get away from some of these 3-hour, 45-minute games in hot weather or cold weather. This is obviously an experiment. Anything we do in the rules committee can be changed next year."