What happened at the end of regulation of the Music City Bowl between Tennessee and North Carolina probably won't happen in college football again.
And the NCAA can thank the Volunteers and Tar Heels for it.
Among the rule changes proposed by the 13-member NCAA Football Rules Committee this week was the addition of a 10-second rundown of the game clock in the final minute of each half when the offensive team commits a penalty that stops the clock.
Rogers Redding, the national coordinator of college football officiating, said in a phone interview Friday that the Music City Bowl is largely responsible for the proposed change.
"It was a pretty strong impetus for it, and it's interesting how one game can grab attention," said Redding, also the secretary and rules editor for the Football Rules Committee.
"There's no question that after that game there was a lot of talk about a possibility of such a rule. There was more to it than just that [game], but that was the spark that lit the fuse, so to speak."
Trailing by a field goal late in the fourth quarter, North Carolina drove into UT territory and didn't get a first down on a running play with no timeouts and less than 20 seconds left. Amid the chaos of the Tar Heels attempting to run in their field-goal team with the clock running down, quarterback T.J. Yates spiked the ball with a second left on the clock and too many UNC players on the field.
North Carolina was assessed a 5-yard illegal-substitution penalty, kicked the tying field goal and eventually prevailed in double overtime.
Redding said there hadn't been specific discussion of the rule before that game.
"There have been suggestions about we need to do something about whether or not a team could stop the clock," he said, "and there's some other things in the rules that allow some adjustment, but there's not been specific discussion about the 10-second runoff rule.
"Part of it is the NFL has the rule and has been experimenting with it for some time and they seem pretty happy with it. We talked with some of those folks before we went this way."
Under the proposed change, if an offensive team commits a penalty that stops the clock (generally false-start, illegal-substitution, illegal-participation or illegal-formation penalties), the defensive team can elect to have 10 seconds taken off the clock with or without accepting the penalty yardage.
The NFL version of the rule, instituted before the 2007 season, allows the offensive team to nullify the 10-second runoff if it uses a timeout. The defensive team also can choose to decline the runoff and the yardage.
The committee proposed other rule changes:
• restrictions on blocking below the waist downfield.
• a point of emphasis on checking equipment, such as ensuring all four points of the chin strap are buckled and mouthpieces are in;
• experimenting with moving the umpire to the offensive side of the line of scrimmage during spring practices and scrimmages;
• enforcing unsportsmanlike-conduct penalties as either live-ball or dead-ball fouls, depending on when the foul occurred;
• adding video monitors with live game broadcasts to coaches' booths to help determine whether to challenge a play.
The proposed changes go to the NCAA member institutions for a 30-day comment period from coaches, administrators and officials. The changes go in April before the Playing Rules Oversight Panel for institution or re-evaluation.
They will either bless the changes or send them back for other review," Redding said. "It'd be unusual for them to overturn anything, because they specifically look at three areas: players' safety, economic impact and image of the game.
You could argue that (the 10-second rundown) doesn't really impact any of those. I'd say on a scale of 1 to 10 it's probably around a 9.5 (to pass). It's going to fly, I don't think there's any doubt about it."
Follow our Vols beat writer Patrick Brown on Twitter by following this link.
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...
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