SEC Media Days: Rule Changes Positive in 2007

HOOVER, Ala. -- A year ago I railed about the NCAA approved rules changes, which were designed to speed up college football games by taking away game action. Well as we get ready for 2007, the idiotic rules have been changed, and there's a lot of talk here in Birmingham about the impact new rules will have on the games this fall.

SEC Supervisor of Officials Rogers Redding is in charge of getting league refs up to speed on the new rules and spent some time getting us media boys up to speed as well. He told the assembled media the most impactful change on the way the game will be played is moving the kickoff back to the 30-yard line.

"Many of us can remember when the ball was kicked off from the 40-yard line and eventually kickers adjusted and were booming balls out of the end zone and all we got were touchbacks," Redding said. "So we backed it up to the 35-yard line and for a couple of years the kickoff return was back in the game. But again, kickers adjusted and were again booming balls through the end zone. So this year the committee moved it back to the 30. During the spring games and scrimmages we were seeing that kickers were typically kicking the ball somewhere between the eight and twelve yards line or maybe a little deeper, but very seldom was the ball making it all the way to the end zone. This will put the kickoff return back in the ballgame, and if there's anything more boring than a touchback I don't know what it is."

Several coaches have already commented that moving the kickoffs to the 30 will result in them spending far more time on kickoff returns and kick coverage since virtually every kickoff will be returned in 2007.

Additionally, the elimination of starting the clock when the ball is kicked and after changed of possession should result in at least an additional dozen plays in every game this fall.

The NCAA will continue to try and keep games from going past the three-and-a-half hour mark in ways that do make sense. After TV timeouts, the play clock will be just 15 seconds instead of 30. Team timeouts that are separate from network television timeouts will also be 30-seconds shorter. So we'll get more action and less down time than we saw last fall.

One rule change that hasn't gotten much attention but could be very important is focused on players helping teammates block kicks. Specifically they will be looking for situations where linebackers essentially push defensive lineman into the backfield to create greater penetration. That's something to watch for this fall as well.

The SEC is also considering how to react to the controversy involving the betting scandal with one NBA official. You can look for extended background checks and even more scrutiny for officials of all sports at all levels as a result. That has to be a good thing.

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