The next installment of the “If I were emperor” series is college football, which has a number of differences from pro football.
College football is very fast-paced and exciting. However, there are a number of things that need to be tweaked, mainly around the length of the game. It’s almost impossible for a college football game to finish in less than 3.5 hours. It would be much better to be 3 hours, especially since TV schedulers are oblivious to this and keep scheduling games in 3-hour time blocks. So let’s work on that.
1. Eliminate stopping the clock on first downs. The NFL doesn’t do this, and college shouldn’t, either. This will shorten the game a good bit.
2. Eliminate stopping the clock on plays that go out of bounds, except the last 5 minutes of the game. This is also an NFL policy, and goes a long way toward keeping games closer to 3 hours.
3. Eliminate bye weeks. These are not grizzled 35-year-old veterans. These are 18-22-year-old kids. Start the season on Labor day weekend as is done now, and play for 12 straight weeks. These are young men. They can handle playing 12 games in a row. In this setup, the second and third weekends of November would be the 11th and 12th weeks of the college football season, and they would be the weekends that would only have the Pro Bowl 1 week and no NFL games the next week (see my NFL emperor post earlier). You could have 2 weekends of big rivalries. Auburn could play Georgia one week and ‘Bama the next. Carolina could play NC State one week and Duke the next. Michigan could play Michigan State one week and Ohio State the next – all without any competition with the NFL. Some games could be played on Saturday and some on Sunday. Then the NFL ramps back up on Thanksgiving, and college ball can have all their conference championship games on Friday/Saturday after Thanksgiving. The Army/Navy game is now played as the only college game the week after the conference championships, so that game would be the first Saturday in December. Then you can wait a week and, if you insist on playing 40 bowl games, you have 3 weeks to play them instead of 2. All this by just eliminating the unnecessary college football bye week. Then, concerning the individual games each week…
4. Schedule smarter. Let me use the Charlotte TV market as an example. Charlotte is the geographic center of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The CBS affiliate carries the ACC game of the week each Saturday at 12:30. CBS has a national broadcast of the Southeastern Conference game of the week every Saturday at 3:30. When it’s time for the SEC game, the ACC game is often still early in the 4th quarter. And for the past year or so, one team is often ahead by at least 20 points. Channel 3 couldn’t care less, since “this is ACC country.” Now, if we could get these other changes made, that would help bring the ACC game to an end earlier. But let’s not have a pissing match over what conference territory we are in. Start the ACC game at noon, and with these other changes, you’re in excellent shape to show BOTH games, in their entirety, to your entire audience. And the rest of the networks (especially that 4-letter network), should also schedule games in 3.5-hour windows, unlike the 3-hour ones they use now.
5. GET A SENSIBLE OVERTIME POLICY. This is the one thing I really hate about the college game. Right now, there is no clock in overtime. There’s a coin flip to see who gets the ball first, then one team gets the ball at the opponent’s 25 yard line to start the drive. They take the drive to its conclusion, and then the other team gets the ball at the opponent’s 25 yard line also, and gets a full drive. If it’s still tied, we go to another OT with the team that got the ball second going first this time. This is the dumbest system of all time. Put the clock back in. The OT is to last 5 minutes. Flip the coin, kick it off, and the next team to score wins. No one scores in 5 minutes, the game is a tie. And I don’t give a crap about the whole “it’s not fair if the second team doesn’t get a chance to get the ball.” Tough toenails. You had 60 minutes of play to beat your opponent. If you couldn’t do it, then lose the OT coin flip and never get the ball, it’s your fault for not winning in regulation. I don’t care if it hurts your feelings. First team to score in OT wins. Period.
6. Stop the stupid unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for end zone celebrations. Like in the NFL, college ball has instructed its officials to keep a close watch on the players and flag them if they show any evidence of having fun, or joy at a big accomplishment. If a team is losing 27-0 to a bitter rival entering the 4th quarter, and manages to score 4 touchdowns – the last one with 1:30 to play – the players are going to go nuts. They will scream, yell, spike the ball, pile on the guy that scored the TD in the end zone, and do a lot of high-fives and butt-slaps. If this goes on for more than 3 seconds, here comes the stupid flag, the team now in the lead has to kick off from their own 20-yard line, and the team now suddenly trailing has the ball on their own 40 with 90 seconds to go 30 yards and win the game anyway. And again, you don’t have to do anything rude, offensive, obscene or demeaning to get the flag. You just have to celebrate more than 3 seconds. Watch TDs in college games closely. As the player gets into the end zone, look at the official. He will be staring down the player(s), just looking for ANY excuse to throw the excessive celebration flag. Stop it. Again, these are 18-22-year-old kids. Let them enjoy what they are doing.