The NCAA has instituted rules that will both shorten and lengthen college football games this year. The clock will start on changes of possession on kicks when the referee signals the ball is ready for play now, rather than waiting for the snap. The NCAA thinks this will shave five minutes off playing times. However, the organization will award each team in a football game with one instant replay challenge (with the price of a timeout used if the challenge does not lead to a referee ruling being overturned by the replay referee.)
It will be interesting to see what this does for the total length of the game. The NCAA portrays these changes as speeding up the game, but somehow I doubt it. Interesting as well will be the effect on the number and placement of commercials for broadcasted games. Will networks have commercials queued for possible challenges? What happens if they are not used?
One very annoying change (announced in Chronicle of Higher Education, subcribers link) is that rather than having the two large college divisions labeled Divisions I-A and I-AA, they will now be named Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Subdivision. All sports are simply D-I outside of football, and this was a way to avoid calling the other programs in I-AA as being somehow lesser programs. But it does tweak those of us who think there should just be a football championship, period.