One of the most fascinating aspects of the planned return of the XFL in two years comes from proprietor Vince McMahon’s goal of staging a full game within two hours.
That would be a significant accomplishment, but it also would require major changes to the way the clock is operated — if the game will continue to consist of four 15-minute quarters.
McMahon mentioned during the conference call that ended up being a streamed online call-in show that the XFL may eliminate halftime. It may not have to come to that, especially since killing halftime means taking away the natural 12-minute break that encourages fans to spend money on food and drink.
The easiest way to trim a full hour from the XFL experience would be to use a running clock until the final five or two minutes of a half. The clock, for example, would keep moving during each possession, pausing only after a score, punt, or turnover.
Another alternative would be to treat incomplete passes the same way the NFL currently treats plays that end up out of bounds, with the clock stopping until the ball is ready for play. But that alone may not be enough to fit a full game into two hours.
Ultimately, the right combination could be a running clock, until the final five or two minutes of the half, coupled with a shortened play clock that essentially forces teams to run a two-minute drill for the full 60 minutes of clock time. Which would definitely hold the audience in place — and it would definitely create old-school football in one very important way: The quarterback would end up calling the plays.
However it all plays out, this is one of the various intriguing aspects of a league that, if current plans proceed as expected, will launch exactly two years from today.