College rule changes not confirmed yet

Published 12:16 am Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I am a little rusty after not writing this column for three or four weeks, but there is a lot to talk about anyway.

I had hoped to have some information about proposed changes to the NCAA football rules for 2009, but have gotten no information about those changes yet. I have seen no information from the NCAA College Football Rules Committee, though I know they have been meeting.

In my humble opinion, the only changes I look for might have something to do with the game’s timing. Television actually rules the roost in college football, so any timing changes will have to be to the benefit of television broadcasts. Television brings so much money into the colleges and their athletic departments, and that allows them to call the shots.

Email newsletter signup

Changes to the game brought about by television have not adversely affected attendance. During the 2008 football season, the total attendance for all classifications was 48,839,003. That figure was up 87,142 over the prior record attendance, which was during the 2006 season.

Southeastern Conference games drew a total attendance of 6,378,085 fans for an average of 76,864 per game. That also is a record.

In spite of the proliferation of bowl games (there were 34 bowl games after the 2008 season) the total attendance was 1.77 million fans, for an average of 52,078 per game. That computed to 85 percent of capacity for each bowl game.

Total payout to bowl teams and their conferences was $ 240 million. It is estimated that about $ 2.5 billion will be paid to bowl teams and their conferences over the next 10 years.

Most conferences now require bowl and television receipts to be divided among all conference schools, so that has become a very important part of all schools’ athletic budgets.

Southeastern Conference football officials will have their spring clinics at Nashville and Lexington. Vanderbilt and Kentucky will have scrimmages during those weekends, and the officials will all get in some on-field work, where they can be trained and critiqued.

The fall clinic will again be in Birmingham in August. While there appears to be no on-field work on the agenda, all officials will be required to participate in the one and one-half mile run. Each official has a time to beat in order to officiate in the 2009 season, and that time depends on the official’s age and position officiated.

The timed run did not become part of the officiating requirement until after my retirement, but I did race walk with my group one year when I was an observer, and actually beat the time I would have had to meet had I been required to run.

As those spring clinics are in March, I expect the 2009 rules changes will be out by then so I should have them in time for next month’s column.

I noticed that Sports Illustrated had a recent article about the resurgence of the old single wing formation. To date myself, in my youth, almost everybody ran the single wing.

I grew up in Knoxville, and General Neyland at Tennessee always ran the single wing, but he used a balanced line while most of the single wing teams of that era ran the formation with an unbalanced line, meaning that there was always an extra offensive lineman on the strong side of the center.

In my couple of years at Sewanee, we ran the identical Tennessee system, including the nomenclature of the plays.

And, that’s official.

Al Graning writes a monthly column for The Democrat. Contact him at