The NCAA rules oversight panel has officially turned back the clock. By returning clock rules to their 2005 form, the NCAA saved more than just fourteen minutes of game time; they have preserved the fourth-quarter comeback and closed a major loop-hole that allowed teams to drain the clock indefinitely on kickoffs.
In the 2006 clock experiment, the following changes were made to the previous rules:
- The game clock was not stopped on possession changes. In close fourth quarter games, teams holding the lead drained 25 seconds from the clock before running a play, while trailing teams receiving the ball often ran out of time getting players onto the field. In one example, Arizona State punted to USC with 2:30 remaining on the clock. While this was a questionable call, the old rules would have left ASU with about 30-40 seconds, provided they stop USC from getting a first down. USC knelt the ball on each of four downs (the clock doesn’t stop after 4th down) and walked off the field.
- The game clock began on kickoffs when the kicker touched the ball. In the most egregious example of this new game clock loop-hole, Wisconsin–hosting Penn State–drained almost 2 minutes of clock before the half when the team lined up intentionally offside on three kicks in a row. The result: 11 Wisconsin players got 3 free hits on the Penn State returner (remember, they started about 10 yards forward) and were rewarded for their penalties.
While there is absolutely no doubt that Ohio State benefited from the 06 rule more than a couple times (think Illinois and Michigan) too many fourth-quarter rallys were prematurely cut off by the arbitrary desire to shorten games a half hour. Now, with the rising tide of NCAA rule reform, I expect we’ll see Notre Dame finally join a conference, the Big East removed from the BCS and a 4 team playoff instituted. Yea right.