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How the Proposed NCAA Rule Changes Affect MACtion

If teams are forced to wait 10 seconds for defensive substitutions, will high-powered MAC offenses like Northern Illinois' be a thing of the past?

Brian Kersey

The NCAA football rules committee sent shockwaves through the college football world yesterday after it revealed its proposed rule changes for the 2014 season. The most notable of these proposals is a rule that would prevent offenses from snapping the ball within the first 10 seconds of the 40-second play clock to allow time for defense substitutions. With less than two minutes remaining in the half, the proposed rule would not apply.

If the rule is approved, (and it seems unlikely that it will) it could spell trouble for teams with uptempo offenses like Oregon, Texas A&M and Baylor. But what does it mean for MAC schools?

As has been the trend throughout the NCAA over the past few years, the teams of the MAC have begun developing high-tempo offenses resulting in more plays per game. Teams employing these offenses also tend to be more successful. Northern Illinois, Buffalo, Ball State and Bowling Green ran the most offensive plays this season, and all four finished first or second in their divisions.

If the "10-second rule" is passed, it's sure to slow down the game and give time for defenders to catch their breath. But will it really result in teams running less offensive plays?

Team Avg Plays/Game Avg. Time of Possesion/Game Time between plays (seconds)
Northern Illinois 77.2 28:17 21.98
Buffalo 75.2 31:45 25.33
Ball State 75 28:55 23.13
Bowling Green 73.2 33:56 27.18

When dividing a team's average time of possession by the average number of plays it runs in a game, it gives a rough estimate of how quickly a team runs its offense. The top teams in the MAC run a play once every 20-30 seconds. Even taking into account a generous 10 seconds for the length of the previous play, it still means that teams in MAC will still be able to run the same amount of plays.

The real defensive advantage of the proposed change would be in substitutions. Defensive coordinators would be able to get fresh legs on the field during long, sustained drives and could switch defensive schemes by quickly changing personnel. Teams with defensive depth, such as Buffalo and Bowling Green, would see a huge advantage next season.

The NCAA is also looking into tweaking the "Targeting" rule it instated last season. The proposal states that the 15-yard personal foul penalty will be waived off if a replay official determines the player should stay in the game. More time in the replay booth means more commercial breaks in your weeknight MACtion.

One final rule change would allow coaches to use social media app SnapChat for recruiting purposes. That's right, recruits. Expect a few selfies from Frank Solich in your inbox this fall.