Kickoff, change of posession rule changes made

INDIANAPOLIS -- Last season, the NCAA wanted to speed up football games. Next season, it wants more plays.

On Thursday, the rules oversight panel approved two major timing
changes that would revert the rules to what they were in 2005 -- stopping the clock on possession changes and not starting it on kickoffs until the receiving team touches the ball.

Some coaches complained the 2006 changes, which resulted in
about 14 fewer plays per game, had altered the game too much. Others said it prevented teams from rallying late in games.

In February, the football rules committee recommended going to
back to the old system. After meeting with the American Football Coaches Association in March, the oversight panel agreed.

"The dramatic number of plays taken out of the game was a
concern to everybody, including the rules committee," said Ty Halpin, a spokesman for the oversight panel. "These guys practice all week to play in the game and we found there were less opportunities for them. That was a big part of the rationale."

A message left at the office of Grant Teaff, executive director of the AFCA, was not immediately returned.

The impact of last year's rules were evident on and off the field.

Game times were reduced by an average of about 14 minutes,
meeting a goal the committee had set.

On the field, though, there were problems. Trailing teams often
sprinted onto the field after a punt, kickoff or turnover late in games to preserve precious time, while teams holding the lead delayed getting onto the field because they could use 25 seconds without running a play.

Another visible problem occurred on kickoffs. Since the clock
started when the kicker touched the ball, some teams intentionally ran offsides to expend more time.

"I don't think that's what the committee really intended," Halpin said. "That's a rule the committee regretted making."

While this year's changes likely mean games will again be longer, the panel approved several other measures intended to help keep game times closer to 3 hours.

Kickoffs will be made from the 30-yard line, like in the NFL, instead of the 35. That, Halpin said, should ensure more returns and shorter stoppages.

"It should create more opportunities for what the committee feels is one of the most exciting plays in a game, and we're not really sure, but it may increase scoring, too," he said.

After media timeouts during televised games, teams will have less time to run plays. Previously, teams had a 25-second play clock; now it will be 15 seconds. Halpin said it could prevent the long stoppages when teams are merely simply trying to save time.

One of the most time-consuming procedures, replay reviews, will
not change. The football rules committee withdrew its proposal to impose a 2-minute limit, in part, because of the potential for technical difficulties.

The committee will also begin considering a play clock that
alternates between 40 seconds and 25 seconds, depending on whether the clock has stopped. The NFL uses that system, and the committee thinks it could speed up games.