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Yes, those games you are watching are taking longer to play

For the hardcore college football fan, time is of no concern on a Saturday in the fall. The hardcore fan is perfectly happy plopping down on the recliner or sofa at noon eastern (or earlier for a pregame fix) and not budging except for bathroom breaks, snack and beverage refills for a good 12 to 14 hours. But for those who are waiting for one game to end before heading out to catch a dinner and a movie, the evening plans may be taking slightly longer to get to.

According to the “Summary of Game Duration Reported to NCAA for FBS Conferences,” a report tracking the length of an average football game over the last five years, the average college football game takes approximately 10 more minutes to complete than it did five years ago. As reported by, games appearing on television typically take 12 more minutes to play than those not being broadcast to a television audience. With more and more games being made available on television with expanded network coverage, you can see why this may be a concern for conferences and television partners.

Fans of the Big 12 are typically in for the longest games at an average of 3 hours 25 minutes per game. SEC fans can expect to devote 3 hours 20 minutes per game, one minute more than those fans of ACC and AAC teams. Of the power conferences, Big Ten teams play the fastest games on average at a pace of 3 hours 14 minutes per game. Contrasting offensive styles can play a huge role in the disparity in the report. Big Ten teams typically rely more on the run than the passing styles found in the Big 12.

The other factor in the equation is the way different television deals are set. As explained by Big 12 coordinator of officials Walt Anderson, the Big 12’s deal with FOX Sports provides for two additional commercial breaks during a broadcast, which adds six minutes to the overall game time.

Do you mind the extra time it takes for a game to be played? Did you even notice a difference?

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7 Responses to “Yes, those games you are watching are taking longer to play”
  1. Deb says: May 9, 2014 6:38 PM

    Yes, I noticed. Yes, I mind. The only surprise here is that we’re only talking about 10-12 minutes. Seems longer.

    But disagree that it’s not an issue for hardcore fans who plan to spend the day watching games. It’s an issue if you’re waiting for a close game to finish before turning to another.

  2. thefiesty1 says: May 9, 2014 7:02 PM

    Stop the TV timeouts. There is nothing worse than attending a game and sit there while the TV guy with the red arm band is holding up the action. Move along!

  3. cometkazie says: May 9, 2014 7:17 PM

    I’m with Deb on this.

    I wonder how this compares with games in the seventies when they all weren’t being televised?

  4. chunkala says: May 9, 2014 9:17 PM

    Yes, definitely notice and definitel dislike it. The amount only consists of game play or the time it takes to finish the game including commercials, halftime, etc.?

    Agree that it seems much longer than 3 hours and 15+ minutes, more like 3:45 or 4 hours. It’s most likely due to rules changes that help the offense and lead to horrible 63-60 games.

    Possible remedies:
    running clock after team is up by certain amount of points (21-28 sounds good because I hate comebacks) and 2 feet in bounds for catch. I have more extreme ideas but I doubt they’d be well received here.

  5. dmcgrann says: May 10, 2014 1:37 AM

    It’s not just FBS games, either. The “media timeouts” for FCS games are painful to endure as well. Sometimes the game isn’t even being televised.

  6. longborer69 says: May 10, 2014 6:36 AM

    Things that lengthen games, in no particular order:
    1. Television timeouts.
    2. Pass-every-down offenses.
    3. Dominant defenses resulting in 3 and out on every possession, combined with the timeout/commercial on every single change of possession.
    4. Dominant offenses that score touchdowns in less than eight plays, combined with clock stopping for PAT and long timeout / commercial after the score.
    5. Video review of officials’ calls.

    Several things you could do.

    1. If you are going to have television timeouts to make sure the advertisers get there chance, that’s fair enough. We want to see the games, someone has to pay for it. I hate the TV timeouts, but I can live with them.

    But if you are going to do that, you can make a change on the other side — once there have been a certain number of possession change / scoring timeouts in a quarter, you don’t have any more of them. After five possession changes (or however many makes sense) in a quarter, for the rest of the quarter you just play on after a possession change, rather than cut to a commercial break.

    Keep your TV timeouts if you need them, but don’t then claim you have to have a commercial every single time someone scores or punts. Come on.

    2. Give the team with the ball the option whether to stop the clock on first downs. If a team is ahead and wanting to kill the clock, what they do? Wait until the clock starts, then wait the full play clock before running the play. So it’s a waste to stop the clock. When a team takes possession, ask them if they want the clock stopped on first down. If they don’t, run the clock.

    3. Speed up video reviews. The review official gets a shorter time to make his decision. Give him whatever help he needs to get it right faster, but come on, these things drag on and the broadcasters often have the thing nailed long before the announcement is made. Move this along.

    4. Don’t stop the clock on first downs, out of bounds, or incomplete passes in the last quarter of the game if the lead is more than 28. They aren’t coming back, it is over, let’s move along.

    Not sure that the 2 feet in bounds idea would have much impact. It would help the defense, but if it just results in quicker punts (and resulting timeout/commercial) rather than longer possessions, it won’t have much real impact. I’m not opposed to this change, I just don’t see it as much of a factor in the length of games.

  7. ndnut says: May 10, 2014 9:18 AM

    The radio station for my local D-II team takes media timeouts. This is extremely painful because their band is not that good, and they are the entertainment.

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