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NCAA Tells Officials to Shorten All In-Game Delays

9 Aug, 2017

By: Michael Popke

We live in a world of instant gratification, where we can access the score of any college or professional sporting event with a few taps on our smartphones. So when it takes four hours to decide the outcome of a college football game, some of today’s fans are becoming increasingly disgruntled -- and may choose to watch from home, or even online. That’s no doubt why the NCAA is pressuring game officials to adhere more closely to timing guidelines.

For example, halftime must be held to 20 minutes, and television timeouts should run no longer than scheduled. As GreenvilleOneline.com recently reported, the NCAA’s rules committee “has given the control switch to the referee in the white cap,” and that pleases Dave Hennigan.

“In the past, the half would end, the referee would go to the end zone where the officials’ locker room is,” the Atlantic Coast Conference football officiating coordinator told GreenvilleOnline. “He would wait for the teams to leave the field, usually wait for the coach who’s getting interviewed to at least get by him, and then he would start the 20-minute halftime clock. There will be no more waiting for the teams to leave the field. There won’t be any waiting for coaches to do interviews. He is going to start the clock immediately, right from where the half ends on the field. The rule book provides that the halftime is 20 minutes, and the rules committee wants us to get as close to that 20 minutes as possible.”

Walt Anderson, the Big 12’s coordinator of football officials, put things more succinctly: “Halftime across the board in all regular-season games will be 20 minutes. Period. End of story.”

Next February, the NCAA’s rules committee will take a fresh look at the length of games, Anderson recently told ESPN.com. Members will address both “actual game time” and the “number of plays.”

Hennigan says the rules committee has considered implementing changes that would not stop the clock after a first down and start the clock after the ball is spotted following an incomplete pass.

“The average length of games has gone up seven minutes during the past four seasons, and the 2016 season opener between Cal and Hawaii came in at just shy of four hours,” writes ESPN.com’s Alex Scarborough. “Fulfilling the needs of TV partners and maintaining the pageantry of the game is where the balancing act comes in.”

College football isn’t the only sport trying to stop its games from trying to the patience of its attention-deficit fans. Earlier in July, the National Basketball Association took similar steps. The league’s Board of Governors unanimously voted to reduce the maximum number of timeouts per game from 18 to 14 and drop the number of timeouts that teams can take in the final three minutes from three to two. The NBA also reduced the number of team timeouts in overtime from three to two.

“I would say, in this case, we’re pretty happy with the length of our [48-minute] game,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told the media at his annual news conference at the conclusion of the league’s meetings in Las Vegas. “We were more focused here on the pace and flow of the game. What we heard from our fans and heard from many of our teams was that the end of the games in particular were too choppy. I think since I was a kid, that’s an issue people have been talking about, the last two minutes of our game. … We think these new changes will have a significant impact, especially at the end of the game.”

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