Mar 10, 2023 - Sports

NCAA wants shorter games

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Baseball isn't the only sport trying to make its games shorter.

Driving the news: The NCAA Football Rules Committee has proposed three measures that would shorten college football games, including one aimed specifically at reducing the number of plays.

Why it matters: The more plays, the more opportunity to get injured. And with a longer season coming in 2024 when the College Football Playoff expands, the NCAA wants to get a head start on improving player safety.

Details: The most impactful proposal would see the clock continue to run after a first down except in the final two minutes of either half, just like in the National Football League. Currently, the clock is stopped after a first down until the refs reset the chains and spot the ball.

  • That change would eliminate about eight plays per game, per the NCAA.
  • Over a 12-game season, that would save 96 potential injury exposures per team, AP notes.

The other two proposals: No consecutive timeouts in the same dead-ball period (often used to ice the kicker), and no untimed downs on penalties at the end of the first and third quarters.

Between the lines: While the NCAA and Major League Baseball are both eyeing shorter games, they have different goals in doing so.

  • MLB wants to play baseball faster because games can be sluggish.
  • The NCAA wants to play football less because games can be barbaric.

By the numbers: Safety aside, shortening games might not be the worst thing for college football, where bloated runtimes rank among fans' biggest complaints.

  • The average Football Bowl Subdivision game last season averaged 3 hours, 27 minutes and 180 plays. Compare that to the NFL, which averaged 3:10 and 155 plays.
  • Wild stat: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers led the NFL last season with 68.8 plays per game. That would have tied for 85th-most among FBS teams.

What's next: The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel will meet on April 20 to discuss the proposals, which if accepted would take effect this fall.

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