Change appears to be coming for the 2023 season ($$).
The NCAA Football Rules Committee officially recommended the adoption of three rule changes, which will need to be approved by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel in April. They are the following:
- A running clock after first downs (like the NFL), except for the last two minutes of each half.
- Banning the use of consecutive timeouts by a team.
- Carrying over a foul to the second or fourth quarter rather than playing an untimed down.
The effects of the last two are negligable. It’s the first one that will have some impact.
Tulane athletic director Troy Dannen, who chairs the competition committee, told The Athletic this week that he expects the three combined rule changes to eliminate seven to 10 plays per game.
Early prediction: we are going to see an increase in the number of questionable injuries on the offensive side of the ball, the purpose of which will be to stop the clock.
Somebody we know seems pleased with the development.
“The steps we’re taking are measured, in terms of the clock,” said Georgia coach Kirby Smart, co-chair of the rules committee. “We’re going to find out a lot this year how much it changes. But I think it’s a smart decision to looking in that direction as we look to take on more games.”
And why shouldn’t he be? Fewer plays run in a game makes it harder for teams to mount a comeback, and there weren’t exactly a ton of games Georgia played last season where that would have been an issue.
The most troubling thing about this is that it appears to be perceived fairly widely as just a beginning to the goal of reducing the number of plays run in a game.
College football games are taking too long, far longer than their counterparts in the NFL. And, perhaps more importantly for this discussion, they average many more plays per game.
College football games average about 180 total plays per game, compared to about 155 in the NFL, according to an NCAA study on the 2022 season (that included special teams). It’s both a player safety concern with an expanded CFP on the way and a fan engagement concern as FBS games average close to three hours and 30 minutes, while the NFL average is 3:10.
“A fan engagement concern”? More like a broadcast partner engagement concern, methinks. The NFL-ification of college football continues.
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