Faster football?

Football fans beware: The NCAA Football Rules Committee has adopted a number of changes – some major - aimed at shortening games by about 15 minutes. But two other changes could offset the attempt to reduce the length of games to three hours.

By now, you probably know that a coach gets one challenge per game provided he has a timeout remaining. If the coach loses the challenge, he loses a timeout.

But did you know that the length of a halftime is now optional? If the teams agree, halftime could be longer or shorter than the current 20 minutes. The rationale from the rules committee was to shorten the game. But if you have a longer halftime, you'll have a longer game. Look for the SEC to keep the 20-minute halftime in league games.

One major change is that the clock will start after a change of possession on the ``ready for play'' signal from the officials. Previously, the clock didn't start after a change of possession until the ball was snapped.

Also, on a kickoff, the clock will start when the ball is kicked. Before, it started when the ball was legally touched and returned.

Other rule changes:

* The kicking tee will be reduced from two inches to one in hopes of having fewer touchbacks and more runbacks.

* Players may now wear only clear eye shields. In the past, players would use dark shields to shield their eyes.

One rule that did not change was stopping the clock after a first down. The clock then starts after the ``ready for play'' signal from the official.

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