South Bend, Ind. An NCAA committee recommended Wednesday reversing rules enacted last season to shorten football games because the changes resulted in fewer plays being run and confusion at the end of games.
The NCAA Football Rules Committee, meeting in Albuquerque, N.M., has proposed going back to starting the clock on the snap after a change of possession instead of when the referee signals the ball ready for play. It also suggested starting the clock on kickoffs after the ball is touched by the receiving team rather than when it is kicked.
"We feel the changes in 2007 are going to restore plays and are going to provide action for the players and fans, but at the same time we're going to diminish the dead time involved in the management of games," said Michael Clark, chair of the committee and head coach at Bridgewater College in Virginia.
Last season, the average Division I-A game lasted three hours, seven minutes, which is 14 minutes shorter than in 2005. In 2006, games averaged 127.5 plays, 14 fewer than a year earlier.
Coaches had complained about the rule changes last season, particularly the rule starting the clock when the referee signaled.
"Most of the coaches were against the rules, felt it was unfair," said Oregon coach Mike Bellotti, a committee member. "All levels of football, when coaches were surveyed, were against that rule."
To make up for the time being added back into games, the rules committee proposed some changes aimed at speeding up the game that included using a 15-second play clock immediately after timeouts instead of a 25-second clock, reducing the time teams have for timeouts from 65 seconds to 30 seconds, kicking off from the 30-yard line instead of the 35 to cut down on touchbacks, and limiting the amount of time officials have to review a replay to two minutes. Clark said the average time used by officials last year was one minute, 49 seconds.
Bellotti said he didn't think most coaches would be bothered by the shorter timeouts.
"The majority of timeouts are taken because of the wrong formation, wrong personnel, and you want to stop the clock," he said. "There's very little ... talking going on in those situations."
The committee estimates the new rules changes should speed up games by 11 to 14 minutes without taking away playing time.
The rules changes need to be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel on March 12.