NCAA still trying to find ways to speed up game
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.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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