NCAA committee recommends changes to clock procedures after first downs in college football games

It’s very likely that the clock won’t stop after most first downs during college football games in 2023.

The NCAA Football Rules Committee said Friday it is recommending changes to first down and timeout procedures as it looks for ways to speed up football games. Game length has been a recurring issue in college football, with many FBS games taking over 3.5 hours without overtime.

The game clock currently stops after a team receives a first try and starts when the ball is fielded and the referee declares the ball ready for play when the first try is made inbounds. The Rules Committee recommends that the game clock continue to run beyond the last two minutes of each half after the first down. During the last two minutes of each half, the game clock continued to stop after the first down.

“This rule change is a small step towards reducing overall game time and will give us some time to evaluate the impact of the change,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said in a statement. He’s co-chair of the rules committee.

Since college football games are mostly scheduled in three-hour windows, game length is also a big issue for fans who want to watch their favorite teams. It’s very common for games starting later in the day to start on a different network than scheduled because the previous game is still ongoing.

The rules committee also stated that teams should be prohibited from taking consecutive time-outs. Right now, a team can call all three of its timeouts in a row to freeze the kicker.

The recommendations are not official until they are approved by the NCAA Rules of the Game Commission in April. However, the recommendations are likely to be approved by the commission and implemented before the start of the season. The committee stated that its recommendations would “slightly reduce the number of games in the game”.

The committee also stated that a penalty at the end of the first or third quarter should simply be rolled over to the start of the next quarter and applied on the next play, rather than result in an untimely down.

In particular, the committee did not accept the recommendation that the clock continue to run after an incomplete passage. The committee was reportedly considering a rule that would allow the clock to run after certain incompletions to speed up games.

STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 12: General view of the ball on the field after the second half game between the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Maryland Terrapins at Beaver Stadium on November 12, 2022 in State College, Pennsylvania.  .  (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
There may be some rule changes for college football games in 2023 to reduce them. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)


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