Smart says the new 1st down rule is a good start to shorten games

Georgia coach Kirby Smart says the proposed changes to the clock’s operating rules shouldn’t significantly affect college football games next season, but called them a good first step in reducing the number of plays on behalf the health and safety of the players.

The NCAA Football Rules Committee on Friday approved a proposal to keep the clock running when a team makes a first down, except for the last two minutes of a half. Since 1968, the clock has been stopped on a first down until the referee gives the ready-to-play signal.

The committee submitted two other proposals to keep the games moving. One would have penalties that are accepted at the end of the first and third quarters applied at the beginning of the next quarter instead of having a timeout. The other would remove the option for a coach to call consecutive timeouts during the same dead-ball period.

“We think the changes will be minimal here,” said Smart, co-chair of the committee. “You could say, why did you change it at all? It’s going to flow better.”

The committee did not seriously consider the proposal to keep the clock running after an incompletion pass.

The proposed changes would take effect in the 2023 season if approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel on April 20.

Steve Shaw, NCAA rules secretary-editor and national coordinator of officials, said the rules committee took a conservative approach to beginning the process of shortening games.

With the expansion of the college football playoff from four to 12 teams in 2024-25, and possibly more in the future, the conference commissioners asked the committee to look for ways to reduce the number of snaps in games in a attempt to mitigate potential injury. exhibitions.

Shaw said the new clock-on-first-down rule would take about eight snaps out of the game, which would be about 96 fewer exposures during a regular season and more for teams playing in the bowls and playoffs.

The NFL keeps the clock running on first downs throughout the game, and Shaw said keeping the old rule in the last two minutes of halves makes a “beautiful difference” between professional and college games.

“Those last two minutes are critical,” Shaw said. “By stopping the clock, it gives teams a chance to come back. Everyone on the committee was determined: We don’t go directly to the NFL rule.”

In a move that primarily affects Divisions II and III, the committee approved the optional use of instant replay in games that do not have a replay official. It would allow the umpire to use available video to make decisions on reviewable plays after a coach challenge.

Additionally, with a few exceptions, drones will not be allowed over the playing surface or team area when teams are on the field.


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