Athens, GA (Nov 8, 2007) - Last Saturday, the University of Georgia hosted Troy in a football game that was not broadcast live on any television network or station. Even without the standard television timeouts, the game ran for 3.28 Hours. Yes, 60 minutes of game took 3.5 hours to complete. This fits right in with a report on CNNSI.com today that states that even with the repeal of controversial rules in place last year, and the modification of others, "the time of games has increased about 14 minutes, from 3 hours, 7 minutes in 2006 to 3:21 this season." In the case of the UGA-Troy game, the cause was not helped with both teams combining for 15 penalties and seven turnovers. Well I have a solution that is probably too simple to implement: make the penalties really count for something by penalizing the offensive team with yardage plus loss of down for all penalties they commit.
A rule change like this would be very simple. Currently, if the offensive team commits a penalty, they get penalized for yards but get a do-over on the down being played (except in the case of intentional grounding). Under the proposal being offered here, if the team gets a holding penalty on a 3rd down and 10, they will now face a 4th down and 20. The drive will end right then and there as they will be forced to punt or kick a field goal. If they get the penalty on a 4th down play, the opposing team gets the ball back at the line of scrimmage. Do you think University of South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier goes crazy now when things go bad for him? Think how hot he will get and how many visors he will go through if his offense makes stupid mistakes. Not only will we have shorter games, but it will make for even better TV and other media coverage.
There would be no need to change the impact of defensive penalties. The offense will get the penalty yardage and the do-over on the down. This is the way it should be. If the defense messes up, the offense gets the benefit.
There is, of course, one caveat to be included. If the officials have to huddle to discuss a penalty for longer than one minute, no penalty can be called and they must pick the flag up.
Hopefully the the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Football Rules Committee will read this and understands how important it is that this proposed rule change be implemented immediately. Sure, some coaches will scream, rant and rave about the rule. Chances are that these will be the coaches whose teams don't have the discipline to avoid penalties. Since they are a big part of the problem, should anybody really care what they say?
Photograph Copyright 2007 by Frank Tuttle of Tuttle Images. Used with Permission.