The recommendations put forth by Football Rules Committee to overturn the controversial clock rules are cause for celebration. And all that remains is rubber-stamp approval by the NCAA Rules Oversight Panel on March 12. So let's get right to it and highlight the changes:
—Rule 3-2-5-e is no more. This called for the play clock to start once the ball was spotted by officials after a change of possession. If you've been a regular visitor to the Wiz, you know of our strong opposition to this rule from Day 1.
—Rule 3-2-5 is no more. This called for the clock to start once the ball was free-kicked and it created a loophole that was exploited by Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema during the Badgers' game against Penn State.
Several rules have been added to speed the game:
—Charged team timeouts are reduced from 90 to 60 seconds. In addition, the play clock will be set to 15 seconds after a timeout instead of 25 seconds. Two good moves here. After a timeout, you should be ready to go, shouldn't you?
—Kickoffs are moved from the 35-yard line to the 30. For the past two seasons, the rate of kickoffs per game has been just under 11. Marty from cfbstats.com sends along this data: In 2005, kickoffs from the 35 resulted in touchbacks 30.36% of the time. From the 30, this number dropped to 8.54%. In 2006, the numbers are 28.46% and 8.43%. With fewer touchbacks, the clock moves and the potential for big plays — something every fan cherishes — are increased. This is going to put a premium on special teams play. In addition, kicking-team fouls can be enforced at the end of the run, meaning kick units don't have to shuffle back on the field. Brilliant stuff here.
—The play clock will start when the ball is handed to the kicker. Chris Dufrense of the L.A. Times nailed this one: "The kicker has 25 seconds to put foot to ball instead of an unlimited span in which to spin the ball on his finger, check wind speed, or wave to friends in the stands."
—Instant replay reviews will be limited to two minutes. The average replay last season averaged 1:49, so this is unlikely to have much of an impact.
In 2008, the 40/25 rule will be adopted. This means that once a play is over, the next play has to be run within 40 seconds, and this includes the 25-second game clock. This will create a uniform rule across college football that makes officials spot the ball more quickly in order to get the next play off.
On a personal note, many of you know of our crusade to get the clock rules overturned. The rules clearly cut into the heart of the game by reducing the number of plays. But this crusade would have never left the tarmac without the help from Marty of cfbstats.com, who has a database of every play run by a Division I-A team the past two years. More recently, Matt from College Sports Schedules and Gary from Steroid Nation helped with an enormous project that exposed an increase in commercialization and decline in the number of plays during telecasts. What gifted and talented people.
And to the Football Rules Committee, thanks for listening and doing the right thing.