I've said all I want to say about the proposed rule changes, and my opposition to them on two grounds: the new clock rules are an unnecessary concession to advertising, which is the real cause of the non-problem of long games, and they will reduce the total number of plays.
For reasons I've already articulated, the second point is not in dispute in my mind despite much disagreement in the comments here and elsewhere. One of the rules, mandating the game clock start when the ball is set after out-of-bounds plays (it has previously always been stopped) is guaranteed to cut the total number of plays by some amount. There seems to be agreement and some tepid hate toward that part of the proposal. The argument is over the other big change, from a 25-second play clock that begins when the ball is marked for play to a 40-second play clock that begins running immediately, a direct copy of NFL rules. If officials currently take 15 seconds to spot the ball before beginning the 25-second clock, in other words, the change is a wash in terms of the total number of snaps.
I don't think it is a wash, especially when it comes to running the clock out in the final two minutes. But at Mssr. Swindle's behest, I decided to take a closer look at exactly how long it's been taking officials to spot the ball and signal the play clock between plays. The best available video for this is a non-broadcast clip of the 2006 LSU-Florida game in Gainesville, narrated by the LSU radio crew, which never cuts away for fan shots, close-ups, promos, replays, graphics or any other distractions; the umpire and referee are clearly visible at all times spotting the ball and signaling the play clock to begin counting down.
This game was during the 3-2-5e season, but that rule affected the clock only on changes of possession, which are not part of what we're looking for. I charted scrimmage plays in the first half, counting the time between the end of each play and the ready-for-play signal on the next play, and also the seconds elapsed between the end of each play and the snap of the followin play (including the time elapsed to spot the ball). It is not representative and cannot be extrapolated to define a whole that includes hundreds of games. It's just to get an idea.
Won't you count with me?
Obsessive conclusions below the jump...
|Play (Florida)||Spot Time||Snap Time||Play (LSU)||Spot Time||Snap Time|
|Leak pass to Cornelius||12||24||Russell pass to Bowe||10||19|
|Leak pass to Harvin||11||22||Hester run||15||23|
|Leak pass to Ingram||11||23||Hester run||7||19|
|Moore run||13||Time Out||Davis run||11||22|
|Leak Incomplete||11||27||Russell pass to Davis||Penalty||-|
|Moore run||11||27||Doucet run||7||22|
|Leak pass to Baker||14||24||Broussard run||11||Offside|
|James run||9||21||Russell pass to Hester||TD||-|
|Highsmith sack||10||25||Russell incomplete||Penalty||-|
|Leak pass to Baker||Injury||-||Hester run||11||25|
|Leak incomplete||15||30||Russell incomplete||13||27|
|Tebow run||13||26||Russell Incomplete||18||29|
|Caldwell run||12||Time Out||Punt Penalty||10||19|
|Leak run||11||27||Hester run||11||24|
|Leak pass to Cornelius||12||23||Russell incomplete||12||28|
|Leak pass INT||-||-||Russell pass to Hester||15||28|
|Moore run||13||26||Russell run||14||24|
|Leak incomplete||11||21||Doucet run||11||27|
|Leak pass to Caldwell||12||19||Russell incomplete||17||Offside|
|Leak incomplete||13||24||Broussard run||11||24|
|Leak incomplete||10||23||Broussard run||11||24|
|Leak pass to Caldwell||12||22||Russell pass to Doucet||12||23|
|Leak pass to Baker||11||25||Broussard run||10||28|
|Caldwell run||17||24||Russell pass to Bowe||12||28|
|Leak pass to Moore||10||Timeout||Hester run||11||24|
|Leak pass to Cornelius||16||27||Russell pass to Davis||Penalty||-|
|Leak incomplete||Penalty||-||Russell incomplete||10||16|
|Leak incomplete||Penalty||-||Russell run||11||25|
|Tebow run||9||Timeout||Hester run||14||Replay|
|Tebow pass to Casey||TD||-||Fumble||-||-|
|Russell pass INT||-||-|
- LSU dominated the game up to the holding penalty that brought back the touchdown by Craig Davis and the subsequent goalline fumble by Jacob Hester.
- LSU huddles really, really close to the ball.
- When not fumbling away the momentum that could have carried his team to a mythical championship shot, Jacob Hester is just a foot-baw playa.
- There is a big difference in when the ball is set for play and when the referee actually signals it ready for play. Penn Wagers here stands over the ball with his hand in the air, ready to signal the clock, for anywhere from two to four seconds. There are a couple plays the camera cuts away while Wagers still has his hand up, and when it comes down from that point is anyone's guess. I usually still expect him to be standing there when the shot pans back five seconds later. He wastes a solid minute of game clock doing this for no discernible reason.
- These results seem pretty representative, based on what we already know: 10-15 seconds to spot the ball, somewhere in the vicinity of 25 seconds to snap it.
The opportunity is there for a team that wants to exploit those extra seconds - a team with a lead, for example, or an outmanned team that wants to play keep-away with the opposing offense would have an incentive to milk it - but it probably won't cost as many plays as the new out-of-bounds rule unless certain offenses really make a point of slowing it down on a regular basis. This is possible but not likely; its effects are more likely to be situational, as in allowing slightly longer kneel-down periods. If you think actions tend to fill the time allotted (I think there's a good argument for this, but no good way to demonstrate it), the changes still represent an obvious problem. The greatest likelihood is that extent of the reduction in plays - again, the out-of-bounds rule virtually guarantees some reduction - will depend on the tempo of the offense.
Well, and the approval of the rules, of course, which is not guaranteed. Swindle cites OMG Insiderz! who think the NCAA Executive Committee will balk. Hopefully this is much ado about nothing.