How officials are trying to speed up college football games
DESTIN -- The average SEC football game took 3 hours and 26 minutes last year.
The afternoon CBS games only feel like they took twice that long.
Two SEC games took less than three hours, while four lasted longer than four (including two that went to overtime). The average length wasn't the longest among all conferences, but it was near the top.
Steve Shaw - the SEC's coordinator of football officials - said during the league's spring meetings that there are a few things referees are doing to try to tighten games up as part of the charge to keep things moving:
• Halftime is supposed to be 20 minutes. That doesn't always happen, Shaw said. Maybe the officials wait until after coaches' halftime interviews to start that clock. Or maybe they're a little slow to get the teams lined up for kickoff. Regardless, Shaw said halftimes are creeping closer to 23-24 minutes. Officials will try to change that by being more vigilant.
• Officiating crews will also try to be faster about restarting the clock after out-of-bounds plays and substitutions. It might only save a few seconds, but those seconds could add up over four quarters.
• Crews will experiment with how they communicate on replay reviews. If it's obvious - the first replay clearly shows that the ball hit the ground, for example - the referee can learn that quickly through official-to-official communication headsets. That method can make easy reviews happen faster.
Add it all up, and Shaw said he thinks these changes can shave five or six minutes off of each game.