Unintended Consequences: The College Football Edition

The NCAA instituted new rules to speed up football games, including starting the game clock when the kicker’s foot strikes the ball on a kickoff. We’d expect coaches to use these new rules to their advantage once they’ve reached sufficient height on the learning curve:

Coaches throughout the league got a kick out of how Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema used the new rules to his advantage Saturday in a 13-3 victory over Penn State. He had his players intentionally go offside on two kickoffs late in the first half to prevent Penn State’s offense from getting enough time to run plays from scrimmage.

Because the clock now starts on the kick rather than the catch, Wisconsin was able to burn 19 seconds off the clock with its creative game of keep-away. It’s not exactly what the NCAA rules committee had in mind when it changed the rule during the off-season.

Seeing this beforehand would be a tough call for the folks at the NCAA, but its likelihood would definitely have been greater had they further consulted coaches. A simple fix would be to reset the game clock on an offsides penalty. I’m OK with some of the rules, but, in my humble opinion, the clock rule on kickoffs blows. A better fix would be to go back to the old rule where the clock starts when a player on the receiving team touches the ball.

HT to Stephen Karlson at Cold Spring Shops

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Author: Phil Miller

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