2023 SEC Baseball Rule Changes: Coach Bianco explains new rules designed to speed up SEC games
OXFORD, Miss. – Ole Miss football coach Lane Kiffin’s offense is based on speed. Not only the speed of the players, but the speed of running as many plays as possible during the game. It appears the NCAA and the Southeastern Conference are following suit in an attempt to try and speed up baseball games.
The 20-second pitch clock instituted in 2020 remains in place. Here’s a breakdown of the new rules that will be in effect for league games:
• Mound Visit Clock: A 30-second time will start when a coach exits the dugout or a defensive player leaves his position to visit the pitcher’s mound. Unless a pitching change is made, the coach must leave the mound before the timer expires. Exceptions will be made in case of injury.
• Pitching Change Clock: A 2-minute, 30-second timer will star when a new pitcher is entering the game, either at the beginning of an inning or during an inning. The timer will begin when the pitcher crosses the warning track or leaves the bullpen area.
• Ten-Run Rule: A conference game shall be stopped after seven innings if one team is ahead by at least 10 runs. The rule can be used in non-conference games with the consent of the non-SEC team’s coach.
• Revised Weather Policy: The curfew for the final game of a conference series on Sunday may be waived if the visiting team does not have classes on Monday. If the curfew is waived, no game may start after 10 p.m. or resume after midnight local time.
Major League Baseball is doing the same thing, but the SEC has taken the concept and altered the rules.
“Regardless if someone is on base or not, the pitcher has to deliver the ball within 20 seconds,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said.
“If you step off, you either have to pick off or fake a throw; that’s in the rulebook. You get a warning. After the warning, if it happens again the batter gets a ball. They are going to be really stringent about this. Coming set doesn’t stop the clock. It’s delivering the ball to the plate, not the throw, but the actual commitment to the plate stops the clock.”
Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco
That is not the only change. Relief pitchers will have to hustle from the bullpen to the mound and batters will not be able to waste time between pitches.
“From the bullpen, once the relief pitcher hits the warning track, he’s got two minutes and thirty seconds to get his eight warm-up pitches in. It’s plenty of time,” Bianco said. “He’s just got to get the ball and pitch. He can’t just mess around. There are thirty seconds between batters, twenty seconds between pitches. The batter has to be in the box by ten seconds left on the clock so that he doesn’t slow down the pitcher.”
But why are the new rules in place? Simply put, it appears baseball – at the professional and college level – would like to shorten the time of the games.
“There’s a thrust in baseball to try to play the game faster. They are trying really hard to keep the game under three hours, but we play this game that doesn’t have a clock. So, it’s hard to do. There’s a lot of wasted time. So, the question is how do we clean up the dead time? It’s not that the plays of the game take long; it’s in between.”
Coach Bianco on speeding up the game
Bianco added the new rules will not provide an advantage to a certain team. The way a squad adapts to the new rules will be the key. The teams that adapt better will fare better.
“Our job as players and coaches is to be better at this than the other team,” Bianco said. “You can have an opinion, but it’s not that the other team is cheating. We know what the rules are. Our job is to be more efficient than the other team.”
Ole Miss begins the season Friday at 4 p.m., against Delaware at Swayze Field.
Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers.
He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio.
A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series.
Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time.
He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk.
Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.