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Post Discussion on the new football rules proposals

Friday February 16, 2007

Along with the decision to scrap Rule 3-2-5-e a few days ago, the AJC also reported some other related changes proposed by the Rules Committee. Again, all of these still must be approved by an oversight body in March before they become official. The theme still centers around reducing the total length of games, though the impact on the game clock itself is much less under these changes (until 2008…see below).

Kickoffs will be from the 30-yard line instead of the 35. The clock won’t start until the receiver touches the ball; last season it started as soon as the ball was kicked.

This rule is getting the most attention and comment, but I like it. Kickoff returns add excitement to the game, and both a good return unit and a good coverage unit can affect field position one way or the other. Touchbacks can be the reward for exceptional kickers.

Coming out of a television timeout, the play clock for the first play of a possession will be 15 seconds instead of the normal 25.

That’s another rule I like. You’ve had three minutes on the sideline – get out there and play ball. 15 seconds is enough time to audible depending on what the defense shows. So long as you have a clear sign from the officials that the TV timeout is coming to an end, this rule shouldn’t be a problem.

Charged team timeouts — not TV timeouts — will be cut by 30 seconds.

If I have problems with one of the proposed changes, it’s with this one. Team timeouts are often used just to stop the clock, true, but they’re also used to deliberate strategic decisions. Is 30 seconds enough? Probably. But if we’re going to allow two minutes for replays and allow for many long TV timeouts, taking this time away from team timeouts seems a bit miserly.

On kickoffs, the play clock will start once the kicker is handed the ball by the official. In the past, the kicker could take as much time as he wanted before kicking the ball.

Note that this rule just starts the play clock and not the game clock. It’s not a bad idea – tee it up and let’s go. I wonder if allowances will be made for wind blowing the ball off the tee.

The time allowed for instant replay reviews will be capped at two minutes.

Ehhhh. As the AJC said, replays last year took an average of 1:49. No big deal. While some replay decisions could drag on, the real problem often seemed to be the frequency of replays. In most conferences, they tell us that "every play is reviewed by the booth" and that the officials can choose to examine a call without a request or challenge from a coach. I think that happens too often sometimes. Of course you want to get the calls right, but anyone who remembers the first quarter of the 2005 Georgia-Georgia Tech game knows how bogged down things can get when play after play after play gets reviewed. This area needs further discussion; it’s not just a clock issue.

The article also lists a rule which will be put into place for 2008:

"The rules committee also announced that starting in 2008, college football will go to a 40-second play clock like that now used in the NFL. The 40-second clock will start at the end of every play. College football currently uses a 25-second clock that doesn’t start until the ball is put in position and declared ready for play."

I’m pretty skeptical about this one. Part of the outcry over 3-2-5-e was the number of plays it cost us. This rule seems headed in that same direction. Unless it takes longer than 15 seconds to set the ball currently, this rule will likely result in fewer plays. Teams can also start taking a knee with two minutes remaining in the game if the opponent is out of timeouts.

J Huggins has some good thoughts on the proposals in the comments here. Anyone else?

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