But not by much.
The NCAA Rules Committee enacted a series of clock changes last week:
The first is the implementation of a 40/25-second play clock, similar to that of the NFL. At the end of every play, the 40-second clock will start, which is the rule in the NFL. The old college rules featured a 25-second clock that did not start until the officials marked the ball ready for play. On a change of possession, the first play will be run on a 25-second clock.
The rules committee made another recommendation that will certainly shorten the game.
After a player runs out of bounds and the ball is made ready to play, the official will start the game clock. Under the old rules the game clock would not start until the ball was snapped. This new rule will not apply in the final two minutes of the first half and the final two minutes of the game.
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So is this believable? Actually... yeah. Late, unlamented Rule 3-2-5e was so universally despised that you could be forgiven for thinking the rule's actual name was "Hated Rule 3-2-5e," and coaches were at the forefront of said hatred. Why would they suddenly change course just a year later? If they've done this study and they think the results are valid, this appears to be away to appease the ever-ravenous needs of TV without slicing games.
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|Games*||Plays||Plays Per Team/Game||Seconds Per Play|
* - For mathematical purposes (and because of games vs. I-AA teams whose stats are not included), this is the sum of all games played by all teams in the FBS and NFL, not the number of actual head-to-head matchups.
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In summary: still no good.
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Three seconds per snap or nine snaps per team may not seem like a significant difference, but week after week, a loss of 18 total plays per game will work out to about two-and-a-half or three possessions per game down the drain. That will probably be worth a decline of about 4-5 points every week, if the similar losses under the dreaded 3-2-5e are any indication. Any guess that the 40/25 clock will somehow increase plays is based on teams moving to the line quickly - "on consistent pace of play," in the words of the NCAA rep who responded to Orson's readers - but there is no incentive for offenses to take any less time than the rules afford. There's no way to predict the future with certainty, but the data from our "control group" (the NFL) indicates the number of plays will go down.
Aside from the incremental loss of football and increase in standing around, the larger point is that there is no problem with the existing rules. If games were too long (they're not), the culprit isn't the clock. The culprit is increased commercialization. Obviously, advertising isn't going anywhere; its expansion is natural as the game becomes more popular and more profitable. But its expansion at the expense of the game is insulting. The rules are not the problem. Market if you must, but consumers have the right to draw the line when the product is carved to suit the advertising.
Update [2008-2-19 8:10:17 by SMQ]: The Wiz and CFB Stats look at the network data and reach the same conclusion: the rules are not the problem. If there is a problem, that is, which there is not.