NCAA rule changes address pace of play, safety

New NCAA football rules aim to shorten games and protect players this season. The NCAA Football Rules Committee adjusted the play clock and addressed player safety, among other rule changes. Targeting defenseless players and horse-collar tackling are now 15-yard penalties. The new play clock is set at 40 seconds immediately after the ball is declared dead by officials. If officials stop the clock for administrative reasons such as penalties, timeouts and changes of possession, then it will be set at 25 seconds. Ty Halpin, associate director of the NCAAâÄôs Playing Rules Committee , said the NCAAâÄôs attempt to increase game pace was for TV networks and coaches. âÄúOur administrators and conference commissioners believe for a variety of reasons, that four-hour football games on a regular basis are too long,âÄù Halpin said. Halpin said the reaction from coaches has been positive and players have adjusted quickly. There hasnâÄôt been much of a reaction from fans, but they typically donâÄôt like anything they perceive as shortening the game, Halpin said. âÄúTelevision networks would certainly prefer shorter games to fit into broadcast windows, but college football will never be packaged the way the NFL is,âÄù Halpin said. âÄúWe will always hold on to our halftime shows and the atmosphere that brings alumni and students to campus.âÄù The pace of play has improved, Halpin said. Big Ten Coordinator of Football Officiating David Parry said he has hardly noticed. The average time of games last year was about three hours and 16 minutes, Parry said. So far, this seasonâÄôs average game time has been about five minutes shorter. Gophers head football coach Tim Brewster said it hasnâÄôt been an issue. It takes away a few snaps a game, but it doesnâÄôt change the way the team operates, he said. Brewster said he supports the new safety precautions and that theyâÄôre long overdue. âÄúYou know, anything we can do to make the players safer and prevent injuries is a great thing,âÄù Brewster said. âÄúIâÄôve been a big proponent of that rule.âÄù The National Athletic Trainers Association told the NCAA to be conscientious of the playersâÄô safety, and suggested making the rules clearer for everyone, Parry said. The horse-collar tackle, now a 15-yard penalty, is when a player grabs the inside collar of the shoulder pads or jersey and immediately pulls the runner down. Other safety rules arenâÄôt much different, but are written in more understandable terms, Parry said. A chop-block is now defined as a combination of high and low blocks by any two players against an opponent, other than the runner. Officials are also emphasizing hits where players target defenseless opponents above the shoulders, and hits made with the tops of helmets. Each of these are personal fouls, and a 15-yard penalty. âÄúA large part of this effort is teaching the right tackling techniques so players reduce the risk of serious injury,âÄù Halpin said.