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Clemson University football fans must shorten their halftime tailgate a bit this fall. That commercial-restroom break must be expedited.
The NCAA has directed officials to adhere to timing guidelines more attentively. The halftime intermission must run closer to the allotted 20 minutes. Those pesky, seemingly incessant television timeouts will not run longer than scheduled.
Unfortunately, the rules committee could not change the television contracts to remove some of those momentum-draining commercial breaks. The television crew member in the red baseball cap will still step onto the field repeatedly to signal the interruption.
But the rules committee has given the control switch to the referee in the white cap.
"In the past, you would see the person in the red hat who would really control the length of media time-outs," Atlantic Coast Conference coordinator of football officiating Dave Hennigan said. "Now this year, when he gets 30 seconds from his producer, he's going to leave the field. The officials will take over the timing from that point on."
The same constraining principle will apply to halftime.
"In the past, the half would end, the referee would go to the end zone where the officials' locker room is. 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," Hennigan said. "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."
The change may seem subtle and simple, but such initiatives will encourage the flow of the game and sustain the entertainment value that makes college football so popular and profitable.
"Not only in football but in a lot of sports, there's been talk lately about how long games go," Hennigan said. "Specifically, with college football, the rules committee looked at several rule changes in an attempt to address this- such things as not stopping the clock after a first down, starting the clock after the ball is spotted after an incomplete pass and some other things."
Yet, rather than change the rules, the committee has ordered administrators and officials to manage the flow of the game more effectively.
"Officials need to be consistent in keeping the game moving," Southeastern Conference coordinator of officials Steve Shaw said. "Halftime, in and out of media timeouts, after scores, we'll keep the game moving. That's the impetus we've gotten from the Rules Committee, and that's the expectation we have of our officials."
Hennigan explained two additional rule changes during ACC Kickoff media event. First, players will not be allowed to hurdle over the line of scrimmage to block a kick.
Secondly, the definition of a horse collar was expanded to include the collar, the inside collar and the nameplate of a ball-carrier's jersey. If a player pulls a runner to the ground by his collar or nameplate, he will be penalized 15 yards.
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