In an effort to control the flow of the game, the NCAA Football Rules Committee has proposed several timing rules changes with perhaps the most notable being no longer stopping the clock on first downs outside of the last two minutes of each half.
“This rule change is a small step intended to reduce the overall game time and will give us some time to review the impact of the change,” said Kirby Smart, co-chair of the committee and coach at Georgia, in the NCAA’s press release.
Currently all first downs stop the clock in NCAA, a rule that is unique to college football and not in the NFL. The goal is to shrink the number of plays, and game time along with that, down.
How far down?
That answer isn’t specified in the committees report although a NCAA study on the 2022 season, as mentioned in this article on The Athletic, revealed that college football games have an average of 25 more plays in them and take an average of about 20 minutes longer than NFL games.
In that same article on The Athletic, Tulane’s Athletic Director estimated that the new rule proposals will only take about 10 plays out of the game. So the new rules are really more of a first step towards shortening the games.
All of these rules also impact player safety as lessening the amount of plays in a game becomes more important with College Football Playoff expansion right around the corner.
Teams who make the CFP Championship could potentially play 17 games in a season, akin to a full-length NFL regular season and far from the 12-13 games that teams played approximately 20 years ago.
Also included in the rules proposal are two other recommendations to help quicken the game.
In the recommendation, teams will not be allowed to call two timeouts consecutively and penalties that happen at the end of the first and third quarter will carry over to the second and fourth instead of giving the offensive team another play to run at the end of the quarter.