We expected, with typical sour foresight, that the NCAA Rules Committee would do the wrong thing when it came to revising the mess that was Rule 3-2-5-e. (The rule that ate around 12 plays a game last season. See that link for a USA Today article if you've been asleep, or busy actually doing productive things for the past year or so.)
Specifically, we wrote this:
Who says Americans have balls? If the NCAA Rules Committee really had them, they’d emerge from the undisclosed location they meet in, face a few flashbulbs, and saunter up to the mike to read a statement that read in total like this:
Hi. We fucked up. Blame our lucrative television tie-ins. We’re going back to the way it was. Apologies.
And in essence, that's precisely what they did. For that, we grant the Rules Committee our respect and the award of their balls back--in fact, we award them an unstoppable European cycling team in the balls department.
Balls, gentlemen. Even when you can't feel them like competitive cyclists can't, they're still there.
The rules committee engaged brain and determined that, unlike the profoundly unwise decision to remove actual clock time, the peripheral dead time surrounding much of the game could be trimmed to speed up the game and thus keep the potentates of various network sponsors happy.
Proposed adjustments follow:
• Limit the play clock to 15 seconds following a television timeout.
Perfecto. For anyone in a stadium, television timeouts seem interminable. Shaving off the margin actually benefits the couch set and the bleachered mobs inside the stadium. Less time to focus on fighting for elbow room with flabby bourbon-scented section mate, more time to focus on affecting the outcome of the game with your mind in the stands. For the home set, less time to add another quick thousand calories to the day's disastrous tally by lessening the time you have to sprint to the cabinet, break the emergency glass with your fist, and take our the backup bag of Zesty Oaxacaguacamole Doritos (the taste your aorta fears!)
A win for all. Evaluation: Ben Franklin sensible.
"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." Yeah, like THAT kind of sensible. And yes, he WAS president. Just ask Michael Scott.
• Kickoffs moved from 35-yard line to 30-yard line. We rely here on the attack of the two-handed economist:
Upside: Makes the return game more of an element than ever before, since 2006's touchbacks will become 2007's big returns, crippling fumbles, and spring-loaded, Hong Kong stuntman-on-wires-style, organ-rupturing hits. Makes the touchback a truly meaningful stat. Makes the coin toss slightly more important, since the wind will play even more significant role in determining field position. Boosts importance of kicker.
Downside: Boosts importance of kicker. More injuries on the margins, which could discourage use of starters on special teams, a growing trend among coaches? Countering the downgrade in upset potential created by shorter games by allowing for more freakish, game-changing returns both ways?
Evaluation: Gerald Ford-meh. We'll see more points off this. Half of college football says whee!, the other half grumbles, throws a bone across the cave, and drags knuckles back to the wall painting of them taking down a woolly mammoth with their homies.
• Reduced charged team timeouts by 30 seconds.
If you're a genius like Charlie Weis, you make your adjustments as you go, so this won't really affect you, right? For non-geniues, the big adjustments occur at halftime, so no biggie here re: coaching 'em up at the break on offense. Physiologically, if you're trying to interrupt a long drive on defense, it's a slight difference, but with whole corporations' net worth devoted to conditioning shame on you if you bitch about this rule.
The negative could come in a few delay of game penalties some offenses will garner sauntering back after a timeout. But that's what warming up with Multidirectional State is for, right?
Evaluation: First-term Ronald Reagan-steady.
Stiffarming air traffic controllers: steady like first-term Gipper.
• Penalties for all kicking team fouls that occur during the kick can be enforced at the end of the run.
Again, another way of saying "get on with it" by discouraging the rekick, which could change field position, thus producing a half point or so more points a game, if our inner Dr. Zoidberg is correct. (And like Zoidberg with human anatomy, we're blind-guessing on the numbers here.)
Evaluation: Calvin Coolidge-equivocal.
• Encourage coaches, officials, game management personnel, media partners to manage the game in a more efficient manner.
A prescription which, if written by your physician, could get you anything from ibuprofen to pure Colombian blueflake from your local Eckerd's. We imagine what this means is hauling ass the whole game for clock guys, refs, and especially the cursed chain gang, who will all be running wind sprints in the offseason to get in shape for the shuttle run they'll be doing forty times a game this fall.
As for media partners...we have no idea what they'll be doing here, unless they sponsor whole quarters with in-field projection ads and World Cup-style sponsorship.
Evaluation: Ronald Reagan second-term Alzheimer's fuzziness.
• Play clock is started when the ball is handed to the kicker by the umpire on all free kicks.
A minor tweak, and a rare one since free kicks only follow safeties. But a smart and painless one, since no one will notice it anyway after a.) watching their defense do the worst thing possible to an offense, or b.) watching their offense commit the cardinal sin of cardinal sins.
Evaluation: Franklin Pierce-invisible.
• Limit instant replay reviews to two minutes to decide to overturn or confirm the ruling on the field.
You'd expect insta-raves here for the rule most people's eyeballs will leap to first. Of course replay takes too long; two minutes could be pushing it. Yet under the prior, unlimited review time system last year we still had the Oregon/Oklahoma debacle and numerous other gaffes in the replay system. Compress the time they have to make decisions, and thanks to a few quirks in human neuroanatomy, you will get more mistakes. Like taxes, death and trouble, it's inevitabuble.
Evaluation: Bill Clinton diabolical. It's gonna give, and it's gonna take, and when your team plays the part of the blue dress, remember that someone's got the nervous man under the hood on a stopwatch thanks to the rule.