NCAA Turning Back the Clock

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel today approved all proposed rules changes submitted by the Football Rules Committee.

The committee's changes were made to eliminate some downtime in the game without limiting the number of plays. The panel's action followed a joint meeting in March with the Football Rules Committee, commissioners representing each division and the executive director of the American Football Coaches Association, which resulted in clarifications and a better understanding of the proposed timing rules.

The committee made two changes that revert to those rules used in the 2005 season. First, in Rule 3-2-5-e, the clock will start on the snap after a change in possession, as opposed to the 2006 rule which started the clock when the referee signaled the ball ready for play. The committee also returned its rules on free kicks to 2005 standards, starting the clock on kickoffs only when the ball is legally touched in the field of play.

Two major changes approved by the panel intended to control overall game times include moving the kickoff to the 30-yard line, which should result in more returns, and limiting the play clock to 15 seconds in televised games following commercial timeouts.

The new rules will also limit charged team timeouts, during televised games only, to 30 seconds plus the 25-second play clock. Conference or institutional contractual media agreements shall supersede this policy. This will not affect non-televised games.

One proposal made in February by the rules committee was withdrawn after the NCAA's comment period. The committee proposed to cap the total time for replay review to two minutes to make the decision. With the potential for technical difficulties and other possible issues, the committee withdrew the proposal.

The panel requested that the rules committee research and report its findings on a possible change to the play clock that could be proposed in the future. The rules committee is considering a 40-second/25-second play clock combination as a means for a more uniform pace of play.

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