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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Cat Scratch: How will the new NCAA rules affect the ’06 football season?

    PRO: NCAA changes good for football
    By Ryan Casey

    When you watch your Wildcats this fall, you’ll notice that a few things are different outside of the team itself, a result of a number of major rule changes affecting the 2006 season.

    First, and perhaps most drastic, are rule changes that will speed up the game, which a number of coaches estimate will eliminate 10 to 15 plays per game.

    Under the rules designed to shorten games, the clock will now start at kickoff as soon as the ball is kicked. In previous years, the receiving team had to touch the ball before seconds would start to tick off the clock.

    Another added rule has a similar effect on the game clock: After a turnover, the clock will start on the official’s ready for play signal, whereas before, the clock would remain stopped until the offense snapped the ball again.

    In addition, the time allotted for halftime will also be reduced to 20 minutes.

    Second, is the addition of instant replay and coaches’ challenges through all of Division I-A football. UA head coach Mike Stoops will now be allowed to challenge one call per game, so long as the Wildcats have a timeout remaining. (Should he lose a challenge, Arizona would forfeit a timeout. Replay officials will still be allowed to stop the game to examine any play at any time.)

    While coaches may not agree with the rules designed to shorten games, the bottom line is that they’re good for the games and for the fans.

    It’s a step taken that’s designed to end the days of games that go nearly four hours.

    While there are downsides (think back to last year’s Southern California-Notre Dame game: That finish never would’ve happened under the new rules), no longer will fans have to sit and wait while a team waltzes up to the line to snap the ball, the game clock sitting there motionless.

    Considering all the rule changes, games could be cut down an estimated 15 minutes. That’s 15 minutes of not sitting around, watching teams line up to start the play.

    CON: Rules to shorten game hurt fans
    By Tom Knauer

    The NCAA voted to make three rule changes this year with the intention of speeding up play and, presumably, adding a few dashes of excitement to the supposedly marathon-like events we call college football games.

    Two of them will probably work out well.

    Starting the clock on a change of possession as soon as the ball is spotted should make for better flow in games, and shortening the tee on kickoffs to prevent touchbacks just may result in more opportunities for long returns, always fan favorites.

    But related to that latter change is the ugly stepchild of the bunch.

    With the clock starting when the kicker’s foot hits the ball, instead of when it falls into the arms of the returning player, fans will in fact miss out on seeing two of the main things they pay to see: offenses desperately duking it out with defenses, and the thrill of last-second plays.

    Allow me to illustrate: Suppose that during Saturday’s matchup with BYU, Arizona is tied 24-24 with 40 seconds left after, say, a field goal by Cougars kicker Jared McLaughlin.

    The ensuing kickoff alone would deplete at least four or five seconds from the clock. By the time Syndric Steptoe got tackled at, say, Arizona’s 30-yard-line, the Wildcats would have as little as half a minute to drive at least 40 yards and get in range for Nick Folk to try a game-winning kick.

    Would a few extra seconds make a difference? Maybe not. But they would allow for an extra pass attempt. With the rocket arm of Willie Tuitama and the big-play capability of wide receivers Mike Thomas and Steptoe, that might be exactly the cushion Arizona will need to come out on top this weekend.

    Yes, such a play could happen at any time during those hypothetical 30 seconds. Sure, there will be many lopsided games this season where people are going to be begging to get home.

    But isn’t the end of a close game the most exciting part of any college football matchup?

    I thought the NCAA was trying to fix what wasn’t working with its product.

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