By Dave Hershorin Managing Editor

August 31, 2006

I just have to levee a critical word about the new rule changes that will affect the way they run the game clock. They decided to try to shorten the overall duration of games (they remain 60 minutes of actual playing time) by affecting the clock after incomplete pass plays, runs out of bound, touchbacks and kicks of all kinds as such – now, when the ball is placed and the ref signals, the clock will now start to run in these cases; it will not stay stopped until the next ensuing play is hiked. This will not only affect many inherent strategies of the game, but it will also directly impact substitution patterns for tired players late in a game. It will actually affect the quality at the professional level, too, as future QBs (really, players at every position) will lack the subtle, honed ability to control the NFL clock in half-/game-ending situations.

Citing the need to shorten games, it seems like all they had to do was look into the dimension of how extra time is lost most often due to needless television timeouts. In 2005, the average televised game ran three hours and twenty minutes, whereas non-televised games ran three hours and three minutes – 17 minutes less. Hmmm….. But since TV revenue is one of the major income sources for a team’s/school’s bottom-line week-in and week-out, the network concerns were bowed to. If anything, they should take commercial time away from networks to effectively whittle away game times. The NCAA should look into making TV sponsors known more through announcer’s comments and/or character graphic logos placed in the corner of the screen. This would allow the play to continue via the same old clock-running rules. That would save time.

Selling the players’ and coaches’ welfare out for however many dollars, and therefore deteriorating the quality of the game, changes many aspects of what has been developed and procured over decades as to the integrity of this sport. And there is no player’s union to uphold their ability to protest this decision. Fundamentals of the game will just be changed – likely for the worse – due to such financial interests. Any way you slice it, cheapening the quality of college football for any reason, especially ones like this, negatively affects the overall tradition of the game on all levels.

Predictably, within the fallout, I have noticed that most anyone from a TV-related concern who is commenting about the new clock rules applauds them, whereas fan sites and other dimensions of media see right through them and speak (like I do here) of how this is not good for college football. Isn’t it ironic how they were ready and willing to do away with tie games by instituting an overtime system that extends games indefinitely (with commercials poignantly placed inbetween each OT period), but keeping the same clock rules in place that have existed for decades just won’t do. Hmmm…..