By Marty Gordon
Some changes are coming to college football this year, and several should speed up the game itself.
Under the new rules, the game clock will continue to run when a first down is gained. The game clock will be stopped when a first down is gained during the last two minutes of either half. Previously, the game clock stopped when a first down was gained, and the clock restarted when the offense was awarded a first down.
The most significant 2023 football rules changes involve adjustments to the timing and clock rules. The rules committee made these changes to drive three strategic initiatives:
Keep the game moving in terms of pace of play.
Moderately reduce the number of plays per game.
Ensure consistency in officiating mechanics managing the game clock.
Consecutive charged team timeouts will no longer be allowed by the same team in any individual dead ball period.
Other changes include:
When Team A (the offense) gains a first down, the clock will no longer be stopped to award a first down except with less than two minutes remaining in the 2nd and 4th quarters. This change is effective immediately for DI and DII and will be implemented in 2024 for DIII.
A period shall be extended for an untimed down in the 2nd or 4th quarter only if a penalty is accepted for a live-ball foul, if there are offsetting fouls, or an inadvertent whistle. The 1st and 3rd quarters will not be extended, and any penalty enforcement will be carried over to the following quarter.
Drones are not allowed over the field or the team area when squad members are present within the playing enclosure. Outside the limit lines, game management (or conference policy) will govern drone activity. This governance includes all FAA, state, and local laws including campus policy where appropriate.
The field will be available to squad members for halftime warmup no later than three minutes prior to the second half kickoff. When any squad member enters the playing enclosure during the halftime intermission, a staff member from that team must be present on the field.
If kickers or other squad members come onto the playing enclosure before the field is available, their activities must be confined to the team area. All team personnel will be respectful of scheduled halftime activities, and all kicks must be into the practice kicking nets until the field is available.
When the field is available to players, the field will be divided into an “L-shaped” configuration with the thirty yard-lines forming the “L” in order to keep the teams separated.
The optional use of instant replay in games that do not have an instant replay booth official is now permissible and must be in full compliance with Rule 12 (the replay rule) with the following exceptions:
The referee will be the sole decision maker on any review and may include one additional crew member to consult on the review.
The equipment used in the review must be located outside the limit lines on the sideline or end zone and must be completely outside the team area. The referee and additional crew member must be provided a separate, secure location away from fans and sideline personnel, with a tent or similar type shelter structure.
The referee will stop the game to review all targeting fouls that are called on the field. The only other method to stop a game for a replay review is through a head coach challenge. When the head coach requests a timeout for replay review, the replay challenge flag must be dropped onto the field of play.
Other than for a targeting review, the crew on the field may not initiate an instant replay review.
The head coach may initiate a targeting review if the team has a timeout available and a coach’s challenge remaining.
Let’s play ball.