Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Speed It Up

I know many of you out there are college football fans like I am, and I've been a loyal Notre Dame fan for a good part of my life. But I'm sure many of you have noticed how the length of college games have just gotten longer and longer, especially at the Division 1-A level. It seems like it's a miracle if they can play a major college game in under 3 1/2 hours these days.

Of course, there are are numerous things like TV timeouts and instant replays that back games up, and there's not much you can do about that. But in watching college games, I've come up with something that I think could speed games up considerably.

There are many differences between the NFL and NCAA in terms of rules, and there is one rule that leads to why college games can go on longer. That is that rule that states that the clock stops when a team gets a first down, and it doesn't start again until the first down markers on the sidelines are set. The NFL doesn't have this rule, and the clock just keeps on going.

I suggest that the NCAA not wipe out the rule, but amend it. The rule should only be in place in the final two minutes of each half. After all, when does it matter that the clock stops for that rule? Only when a team in driving in the closing moments for a tying or winning score 9or the first half when a team is trying to end with a score). So why should the clock have to stop with 6 minutes to go in the first quarter, or 10 minutes to play in the third, for instance, just to move the chains? Seems silly to me.

The best part of changing this rule, besides picking up the pace of the game, is that no one will notice this rule is in effect. That is, not until a team is driving for a late score and has no time outs left...

Many years ago, the NFL took steps to quicken games that made the game go by a bit brisker, and I think it's getting to the point the NCAA has to do something too. The game is just going on way too long. (And I'd bet the NCAA would come up with some half-assed reason why this couldn't work, I'm sure.) And with the major bowls coming up in January, the halftimes will be even longer than the regular season ones, so you can just about count on some games going four hours.

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