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College Football/Clock issue


Inside of 2 minutes (not sure if that is relevant) Why does the ref restart the clock after a penalty (offensive or defensive) sometimes but not others. It often seems to favor one team or the other trying to run the clock out or score and not necessarily the non penalized team. e.g.-Two examples today 1. Offense trying to score with no time outs and defense called offsides.As soon as they set the ball they rewound clock resulting in 12 seconds loss due to restarting play after defensive penalty.2. Offense trying to kill the clock and defense called for offsides and they didn't start clock until ball was snapped........they could have potentially killed 20 more seconds off play and game clock had the penalty not been called. Am I confused or are the refs confused.....Thanks, Doug


Great question.  Throughout the game (except during the last one minute of each half, as I'll describe below), after a foul, the clock status depends on the result of the play prior to the penalty enforcement. For instance, if the clock is running during a false start, it will start again after the penalty enforcement.  If there is a hold during a running play, the clock will start after the penalty enforcement.  In your examples, 1. the clock must have been running when the offsides fould occurred.  2. the clock must have been stopped.  There is an exception to that.  If the Referee deems that the foul was intended to manipulate the clock, he can make his own decision on what to do with the clock.  That is rare.  The other exception is a delay of game with a team in a kicking formation.  In that case, the clock will not start until the snap.

Inside of one minute in each half, if the clock is running, and a foul causes it to stop (false start, defense offsides with contact, dead-ball illegal substitution, intentional grounding, etc.), the non-fouling team has the option of a 10-second runoff.  If they choose to runoff 10 seconds, the clock starts on the ready for play.  If they choose not to runoff 10 seconds, then the clock starts on the snap.

I hope that helps.  The rules committee is trying its best to not permit teams to manipulate the clock by fouling.  

Bill Robers

College Football

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William Robers


I can answer rules questions and officiating questions (including training, mechanics, and general questions).


College Football Official since 2005; assist in training newer officials.

Big Sky Conference Officials Association Sports Lawyers Association Rotary International

Law Degree from University of Minnesota Law School, 2001 MBA from Carlson School of Management at the U. of Minnesota, 2001 B.S. in Business Administration from Marquette University, 1997

Awards and Honors
Post-Season official in 2012 and 2013.

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