Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 28, 2007

New clocks give back plays and time on field

It’s here already! Seems like just last week I was flying home from working the Gator Bowl.

I’ve been at Ole Miss for the past few weeks working with them at practices and the 3 major scrimmages. Ole Miss is one of a few schools that have officials at every practice during Fall Camp but once they settle into game mode, it will go to just twice a week for us. The SEC has an official assigned to each school and I’m at Ole Miss.

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Last season, you might remember, there were some new rule changes made to help shorten the games.

Why anyone would want them to end quicker is beyond me. Sometimes I’ll hear the other officials say something during a game akin to hurry up and get it over with.

What they really mean is it’s going fine so far with no major issues so get on through it before anything bad does happen. I suppose one gains a certain sense of paranoia. I, for one, never want them to end too quickly because then you have to return to the real world.

But with the new timing rules last year came a loss of an average of 12 to 14 plays that no coach was happy about. So this season, those are thrown out and it’s back to the way it was.

The clock won’t start on a kickoff until the receiving team legally gains possession of the ball. On plays following a punt or other kick, the clock will start on the snap and not on the referee’s ready-for-play whistle.

The only other change of note outside timing is the quarterback can now legally “throw the ball away” anywhere in the backfield once he has been outside where the tackles are usually lined up. Before, he would have had to throw from outside the “tackle box” to legally dump it.

What the NCAA Rules Committee did add for 2007 to shorten the games was adjust timing in TV games only.

If there is a charged team timeout and TV does not want to go to commercial, the timeout is only for 30 seconds as opposed to one minute for non-TV games. It won’t happen often, especially with CBS, but I suppose it might help some.

We now have two different play-clock or 25-second clock times. After any TV protected break, the ready-for-play signal will start the clock with only 15 seconds to get the ball snapped.

Any field with college TV games will have had their play clock re-worked to accommodate this new one. That’s always been an area that we’ve tried to address: getting the teams back on the field and ready to play after a two minute or so TV break.

We just have to learn to live with TV. After all, the SEC took in a tad over one hundred and thirty million dollars from TV in 2006 to be divided among the twelve schools. It’s tough for anyone to gripe too much about that.

We are all in the middle of some great football around here.

Get out and support the youth league teams and your junior high and high school teams in addition to Northwest and our major universities. It’s here for sure.