The Problem of Overtime in College Football

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Playoff included, the single item that is most easily fixable with regard to the BCS system is college football overtime. Overtime tiebreakers contribute absolutely nothing to college football. Every year they have to tweak the BCS formula because somebody gets screwed on bowl selection, if they're not tweaking the BCS math then they're moving kickoffs back 5 yards or changing the timekeeping of the game. Without OT games would naturally be shorter and more likely to fit into the predesignated TV window. That's what really gets me about the NCAA: they screw around with the time tested rules at the expense of the newest, stupidest rules they can think of (BCS & overtime)

Without a playoff in college football we must rely on opinion to decide a national champion. In that respect it would help if we had more information to base our opinions on. Ties are an important source of information when we look at a team's overall body of work. 2007 was a great example of this: LSU endured two OT losses that ended up being useless in determining where LSU was ranked. If we eliminated OT LSU would have been 10-0-2, undefeated national champions and everything would have been great.

In 2006 Boise ran the table and knocked off a great Oklahoma team in the bowl. Boise fans are die-hard by nature, and I respect that some called for national championship recognition, but they were not the best team in '06. If we eliminated overtime Boise would have been 12-0-1 undefeated team, great year - but no claim to a national title.

Some of the best games in the history of college football ended in ties.

1968 Harvard 29 - Yale 29
Harvard scored two touchdowns and two 2pt conversions in the last minute in "Harvard Beats Yale 29-29"

1966 ND 10 - Mich St. 10
Notre Dame elected to kick for the tie rather than face a loss in what became an instructional example to all sane football coaches.

1935, 1936 and 1937 Pitt 0 - Fordham 0
Three straight scoreless ties defined the Pitt Fordham rivalry in the mid 30s. 3-straight, scoreless; which isn't to say these were bad games: those teams combined for a 42-4-9 record for those three years.

1946 Notre Dame 0 - Army 0
Who could forget the "Game of the Century"? #1 Army tied #2 Notre Dame to share the national title... an epic tie at the highest level of college football. Here's what this one looked like:

We're in a time where TV exposure is the single biggest driving force in major college football. This is true to the point where TV interests have influenced NCAA officials to find creative ways to shorten games for TV. Rule changes have been the norm since the Bowl Coalition was founded in 1997. That's the same year we got overtime - which essentially lengthened games and provided a contest separate from the actual football game where the winner could be decided. The new BCS system allowed the stakes in college football to be pushed higher than ever, with each year more and more riding on human and computer evaluation of the top 25. Why then would we eliminate important information such as ties which would help pollsters decide after all who is worthy of being crowned champion?

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad Army won- but I wish they could have gotten the job done in regulation. The Vandy game was exciting, but the contest after 60 minutes wasn't football; if OT were so great why don't we play the whole game on a 25 yard field? As it is I wholeheartedly disagree with the institution of overtime.



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