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NCAA still trying to find ways to speed up game

2/14/2007 - College Football

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- An NCAA committee has proposed rolling
back some football rules that were enacted last season to shorten
games after coaches complained the changes were unfair.

The NCAA football rules committee, meeting Wednesday in
Albuquerque, N.M., recommended going back to starting the clock on
the snap after a change of possession instead of when the referee
signals the ball ready for play.

It also suggested starting the clock on kickoffs after the ball
is touched by the receiving team rather than when it is kicked.

"We feel the changes in 2007 are going to restore plays and are
going to provide action for the players and fans, but at the same
time we're going to diminish the dead time involved in the
management of games," said Michael Clark, chair of the committee
and head coach at Bridgewater College in Virginia.

Last season, the average Division I-A game lasted 3 hours, 7
minutes -- 14 minutes shorter than in 2005. In 2006, games averaged
127.5 plays, 14 fewer than a year earlier.

Coaches complained about the rule changes last season,
particularly the rule starting the clock when the referee signaled.

"Most of the coaches were against the rules, felt it was
unfair," said Oregon coach Mike Bellotti, a committee member.
"All levels of football, when coaches were surveyed, were against
that rule."

To make up for the time being added back, the committee proposed
the following changes:

• Using a 15-second play clock immediately after timeouts
instead of a 25-second clock;

• Reducing timeouts from 65 seconds to 30 seconds;

• Kicking off from the 30-yard line instead of the 35 to cut
down on touchbacks;

• Limiting the time officials have to review a replay to two
minutes.

Bellotti said he doesn't think most coaches will be bothered by
the shorter timeouts.

"The majority of timeouts are taken because of the wrong
formation, wrong personnel and you want to stop the clock," he
said.

He also said he thinks moving kickoffs back 5 yards will be
popular.

"We anticipate more returns and it's going to put a lot of
pressure on defense because by more returns you are probably going
to create better field position," he said.

The rule changes need to be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules
Oversight Panel on March 12.