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NCAA: College Football Games Are Shorter This Year

Wednesday, October 8, 2008 , Posted by Christopher Byrne at 11:13 AM, under ,

Athens, GA (Oct 8, 2008) - Rule changes were introduced this year designed to shorten the length of football games. In a story published on the NCAA News today, the intended effect has happened, but one has to wonder if there may be more to the numbers than meets the eye, or are they reliable to base decisions on in the future.

Here is an excerpt of the article from the NCAA News.


The rule that changed the timing of the game when a ball carrier goes out of bounds has helped shorten games by about 14 minutes on average. The game clock still stops when the runner is ruled out of bounds, but it starts again on a signal from the referee after the ball is marked at the new spot on the field. The only exception is the last two minutes in each half.

In 2007, a typical FBS game lasted three hours, 22 minutes. This season, games are being completed in an average of 3:08.The other new rule is the 40/25-second play clock system designed to help standardize the pace of play. This season, after a play ends, the offense has 40 seconds to snap the ball.

The play clock is set at 25 seconds after administrative stoppages (for example, after injuries or change of possession). Previously, offenses had 25 seconds to run a play, but the play clock wouldn’t start until the referee’s signal.

“What has happened is the rule starting the clock on the referee signal after the ball goes out of bounds has had the impact of shortening the game, but the 40-second play clock has had the impact of adding plays back to the game,” said Rogers Redding, the NCAA secretary-rules editor for football. “My sense is those two things are balancing out.


The immediate question that comes to mind is what the difference is between televised and non-televised games. A few weeks ago, on-air talent told Eye on Sports Media that the change is very significant from a broadcast window standpoint. In previous years, they felt lucky to get the game finished during the 3.5 hour broadcast window. Now they find that most weeks they are looking at 20-25 minutes of fill.

The NCAA, as part of the article, published the following two graphs to support their argument:


Numbers like this are all well and good, but perhaps more detail would be helpful, breaking out the numbers by:

  • Televised vs Non-Televised Games
  • Division 1-A (FBS) Teams playing against non 1-A teams
  • Game lengths based on offensive stats (i.e. games dominated by passing vs games dominated by Rushing)
  • Conference Games vs. Non Conference Games
  • Games lengths by power ratings

etc., etc.

This type of information may make the numbers easier to analyze and draw conclusions from. That being said, would it be nice if the BCS Bowl games fall into the pattern this year?

In the meantime, here is an NCAA video from YouTube explaining the rule changes this year:



Related Link(s)

NCAA News: Football rules changes succeed; shorter games, faster play result

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