Wednesday, February 1, 2023

NCAA Football Rule Change

Spiking the ball with under three minutes left.

Seph Anderson, Sportswriter to The South, focuses his sports writing & photography skills on covering timely Ole Miss and SEC news.

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Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved a number of rule changes for the 2013 college football season on March 7.

While the new rule that automatically ejects a player targeting a defenseless player above the shoulders (subject to official review via video, if desired) is receiving a lot of buzz, another approved change could have an even greater impact.

According to the news release:

To establish three seconds as the minimum amount of time required to be on the game clock in order to spike the ball to stop the clock. If one or two seconds remain on the clock, there is only time for the offense to run one more play.

Seriously, the clock can’t be stopped by a spike with under three seconds left?

Believe it or not, it’s a subtle rule change that could actually have a big impact on college football as we know it. Let’s say a team is driving on offense late in the game, needing a field goal or extra touchdown pass try to win the game, what could happen?

The team gets in field goal position with a pass which stays in bound with five seconds left, but no timeouts remain.

Prior to the upcoming season, the team could have easily run to the line of scrimmage and spiked the ball to make way for the field goal unit.

However, if the aforementioned scenario (or anything similar) happens this year, teams that could have spiked the ball with one or two seconds remaining will simply be out of luck. It’s a rule change that doesn’t make sense in a lot of ways, and entirely different from the way things are done in the NFL.

According to Section 7 of official NFL rules:

2012 Rose Bowl is a prime example of what could happen with new rule.

Article 1: A team is not permitted to conserve time inside of one minute of either half by committing any of the following acts: (a) a foul by either team that prevents the snap (i.e., false start, encroachment, etc.) (b) intentional grounding; (c) an illegal forward pass thrown from beyond the line of scrimmage; (d) throwing a backward pass out of bounds; (e) spiking or throwing the ball in the field of play after a down has ended, except after a touchdown; or (f) any other intentional foul that causes the clock to stop.

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel should be commended for its efforts to make player safety paramount, but this is a rule change that just doesn’t make sense and it will cost teams games now.

Look no further than the 2012 Rose Bowl. While Russell Wilson and the Badgers didn’t get the ball snapped and spiked quickly enough before time expired, a spike under two seconds would have given them another shot at a touchdown pass to win the game over Oregon.

If a similar scenario were to happen this season—which it will—there won’t even be the option.