NCAA Rule Change Means Fewer Stopped Clocks, Shorter College Football Games in 2023
Rule changes approved by the National Collegiate Athletic Association earlier this year are already resulting in shorter game times in college football. Here's what you need to know before Week 1 games kick off this Labor Day weekend.
What Was the Biggest College Football Rule Changed By the NCAA?
The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, hosted on April 20, 2023, approved several changes to college football, including the elimination of clock stoppage following a first down.
The previous rule, in effect since 1967, stopped the game clock any time a first down was gained. The new rule keeps the game clock running with one exception--the clock will continue to stop after a first down during the last two minutes of each quarter.
Kirby Smart, Head Coach of the Reigning National Champion Georgia Bulldogs and Co-Chair of the NCAA Rules Oversight Committee believes the rule change will have a positive impact.
'This rule change is a small step intended to reduce the overall game time and will give us some time to review the impact of the change," Smart said in an NCAA press release on March 3.
Why Did the NCAA Rule to Eliminate First-Down Clock Stoppage?
According to the NCAA, the change is "intended to continue the effort to control the flow of the game and encourage more consistent game management." The new first-down rules are similar to that of the National Football League.
What Other College Football Rules Were Changed By the NCAA?
According to the NCAA, Teams are no longer allowed to call for back-to-back timeouts. Any penalties called at the end of the first and third quarters of play will carry into the next quarter, and drone use is now prohibited while teams are on the field.
How Will the NCAA Rule Changes Impact College Football in 2023?
Rule changes are already shortening games; Notre Dame's 42-3 victory over Navy on Aug. 26 clocked in at 2 hours and 50 minutes, noticeably shorter than the 3-hour and 22-minute average length in 2022.
According to FOX Sports, rule changes could eliminate an average of seven to eight plays per game.
What Do Rule Changes Mean for College Football Fans?
Those watching the game at home may miss those overhead shots as drone use is no longer allowed when players are on the field. The change in time-out policy means saying so long to the practice of "icing the kicker," and shorter game times result in less time in the stadium-- so tailgate accordingly.