As the clock wound down in the fourth quarter of Auburn’s opening game against Louisville last season confusion reigned.
The Tigers were holding on to a 21-14 lead and trying to run out the clock at the Georgia Dome and were called for holding. There are different timing rules in the final two minutes and Bobby Petrino called a timeout thinking the clock would continue running once the ball was set for play. There was a lot of confusion and the Louisville coach took a lot of heat.
Auburn failed to convert the third down and Louisville had one last chance to tie the game. But the Cardinals burned a timeout in a situation when it is not particularly clear they should have needed to. The Tigers ran their play with 52 seconds left and then took the clock down to give the Cardinals very little time.
Petrino explained at the time the officials told him the clock would begin running once the ball was set for play. The holding penalty would have given Auburn an extra 40-second play clock, in essence, without the timeout.
The rules in that situation were followed, but the confusion that came out of it spawned a new rule for the NCAA last year. The Cardinals submitted the play to the NCAA and successfully had that situation clarified and the rule changed.
At ACC Media Days on Thursday, ACC Coordinator of Officials Dennis Hennigan explained teams will be given the option to stop the clock after penalties such as this in the final two minutes. That option would have saved Petrino’s timeout.
“(That Louisville play) was our impetus to send in the rule-change proposal,” Hennigan told Steve Jones of the Louisville Courier Journal. “What (the new rule) does is it gives the coach of the team that’s behind the option to say, ‘I want to start this clock on the snap after you administer the foul.'”
This is how rules are changed. There is a certain amount of trial and error.
Auburn certainly benefited from the old rule. That will change this year. It certainly seems to be adding some clarity to the rule.