Time Warp

By Adam Caparell - November 08, 2007

Rules changes have become the norm in college football, most especially those involving tweaks to the clock the past few years. So after the NCAA's attempts to speed up the game last season were met with dismay and disgust from many of the nation's coaches, the NCAA changed the rules again this past off-season in an effort to drive down the times of these marathon-like games. But after 10 weeks it looks like it's time for the to go back to the drawing board.

The NCAA changed the rules back to 2005 standards last spring - stopping the clock on possession changes and not starting it on kickoffs until the ball is touched - and we've seen the time of games correspondingly skyrocket.

Your average college game has taken 3:21 this season - the same average we saw in 2005 - compared to the 2006 average of 3:07. But the 14 minute increase from last year's average has allowed for more offensive plays (143 average plays run per game in '07 vs. 127 in '06) and more scoring (56.2 ppg in '07 vs. 48.8 ppg in '06), something everyone can agree on is good for the game.

The overall decrease in offensive numbers in '06 was a big complaint last season. Coaches also lamented how the changes hindered late game rallies and some teams took advantage of loopholes in the rules (think Bret Bielema's Badgers intentionally jumping offsides on kickoffs to run down the clock), making a mockery of the game in some instances.

And the biggest rules change instituted this year, moving the kickoff back to the 30 yard line, hasn't done what it was intended to do - shrink the time of games - despite the fact that almost as many kickoffs have been returned this season through 10 weeks as there were in all of '06. But the major side effect of moving the kickoff back five yards has been palpable, to say the least. Forty-two kickoffs were returned for touchdowns all of last season. Already we've seen 50 brought back for scores.

Posted by Adam Caparell at 06:07 PM on November 08, 2007

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