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Tanks take week of 1/5/04


NJTank

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A Sport In Shambles

The debate of who the National Champion in College Football is gathering all the attention as the debate over the failings of the Bowl Championship Series has been the hot topic for the last month. However, no matter if you believe USC or LSU should be number 1 the sport of College Football has many problems that must be addressed otherwise it is serious danger of becoming irrelevant.

The first problem that must be addressed by the NCAA is it's ungodly length of games. Every year it seems, as it takes longer for these games to be played. This is a problem for bowl games as well as games at the start of the season.

Quite often many games last up to four and half hours, and that is without overtime, which is an issue that I will be bringing up shortly. Major League Baseball has taken on the problem of game length and they have been fairly effective shortening the average length some 15 minutes in recent years just by enforcing some simple rules to keep the game flowing.

Time wise there is no difference between College Football and the NFL both play four 15-minute quarters. However the NFL game only last typical around 3 hours a manageable total that is only extend by commercials. However typical college football has less commercials but a game of 3 hours is unheard of.

The reason for the enormous difference in time is that the NFL keeps the clock moving. In the NFL a player goes out of bounds the clock moves until the final 5 minutes of each half while in the NCAA it stops until the ball is snapped again. In the NFL after a penalty except following an incomplete pass the clock starts when the officials put the ball in play. In college, once again it doses not start again until the ball is snapped.

In the end it don't matter all that much on those two situations its only a few seconds here and there, but after a while it adds up. However, the biggest problem and perhaps the biggest hold up is the rule in College Football where the clock is stopped after each first down to move the chains.

When you have the clock stopping after out of bounds plays, incomplete passes, penalties, and first downs, all of a sudden you are stopping the clock almost every play, and his does not include injury timeouts, regular time outs, and referee discussion time.

In all toll what is happening with the slow moving slow paced games is that quite often the games seem to get boring, and watching a full college game is almost a choir at times. Late in the 4th Quarter in a close game there is denying the excitement is still there, but in the 1st quarter the thrill is gone, and unless they make some changes to shorten games the ratings will continue to fall.

Close games are always exciting especially when they go into overtime. For years college football shunned any notion of playing behind 4 quarters, and games would end in a tie. However, the NCAA realized that ties were no good for they need a way to settle games.

The NCAA looked at the NFL overtime system and felt it was not fair, and chose to give both teams equal possession. Which is a good idea. However the system the NCAA came up with is a joke. Each team gets an equal amount of possessions and the overtime turns into baseball innings with the 2nd team to get the ball having so called last licks.

However, the problem comes with where the ball is placed.  Starting just 25 yards from the endzone makes scoring too easy. Not to say they should kickoff and play regularly until there is a score. However perhaps they should place the ball at the 50 so getting into the endzone or just getting into FG range is more of a challenge.

With scoring coming so easily in overtime, often the games go well past 5 overtimes, and this makes games last longer then five hours. At that point injuries could begin to happen as players are over exhausted, and it sets up a dangerous situation with dehydration especially in the south during September when the weather is still a hot, and humid.

Making it harder to score will likely lead to shorter overtimes as one team will make it into FG range while the other get bogged down at the 50. However, 5 overtimes should be the limit in the regular season. There is nothing wrong with the occasional tie, here and there and if nobody can break the deadlock after 5 overtimes, then it's best to call it a draw.

Another problem the NCAA faces is with the scheduling of the BCS Bowls. As long as they are going to be stubborn and keep the bowl system they must make sure that interest does not wane before the Championship game.

Traditionally New Year's Day was the big day for the bowls, you sit around with your hangover and watch the best college teams play in the best bowls. However the BCS has changed that as they have spread the 4 biggest bowls over 3 days.

This is not a good idea. There were only 5 games on New Years Day and two of the games were blowouts, and by the time the Sugar Bowl kicked off Sunday Night, the NFL had four playoff games, and three days of USC celebrating its Rose Bowl win and share of the National Championship, eliminating allot of interest in the game, especially from the casual fans.

Loading all BCS games on New Years Day will be impossible since ABC owns the exclusive broadcast rights to all four. However, instead of spreading it out until January 3rd or 4th they should have one BCS game on New Year's Eve, and the Championship Game standing alone on the 2nd of January.

The college season should never go past January 2nd unless New Year's Day falls on a NFL playoff weekend. Had the NCAA done the formula correctly the Championship Game would have been played Friday Night and would have drawn much greater interest, instead of being buried at the end of a football filled weekend.

Another news item burying the Sugar Bowl is the confession of Pete Rose that he bet on baseball. Many have considered this a requirement for reinstating by Commissioner Bud Selig. Lets hope that it is and next year Pete Rose could take his rightful spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The confession will air on a special ABC Primetime interview Thursday Night the same day his book; "My Prison Without Bars" is released. Both the book and the interview should capture allot of interest as baseball's all-time hit leader comes clean.

It also comes on the heels of baseball's Hall of Fame class which will be announced Tuesday. Look for Paul Molitor and Dennis Eckersley to be the top vote getters among those in their first year of eligibility.

Molitor should be a lock to get in while Eckersley will be close. Hopefully players like Jim Rice, Don Mattingly, Bert Blyleven, Ryne Sandberg, and Tommy John will get more votes this year, as all are deserving of the Hall of Fame.

Heroes of the Week: Team USA Hockey who won the World Junior Hockey Championships in Helsinki, Finland. Though getting no coverage in the US, the WJHC is an annual tournament of the best hockey players under 20 in the world. Team USA rallied to beat Canada 4-3 by scoring 3 goals in the third period of Monday's Final, to win the WJHC gold for the first time ever. Earning MVP honors was Zach Pairse a New Jersey Devils prospect who led the tournament in scoring with 5 goals and 6 assists.

Geek of the Week: Matt Hasselbeck of the Seattle Seahawks who boasted we want the ball and we will score at the start of overtime in Sunday's NFC Wild Card Game at Green Bay against the Packers. Hasselbeck did in fact throw the pass that led to winning score. However, he must have flashed back to his days as a Packer backup as it was caught and returned 52 yards for a Touchdown by Al Harris as the Packers won 33-27 in this weekend's most exciting playoff game. The boast and interception spoiled what was a solid 305-yard effort by Hasselbeck who kept the Seahawks in the game all the way.

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I don't know very much about College Football, but the question I would ask is why is everyone quite so worked up about getting 1 national champion team. There must be hundreds of colleges around, giving lots of colleges a shot at glory cannot be a bad thing.

I personally have no problem with any form of sudden death extra time. If you want to complain when your team loses in sudden death OT my answer is simple. It should have won the game in regulation time.

Rose deserves a spot in the HOF, but as I have said in another thread should not be allowed to work in pro baseball again.

And Hasselbeck will learn that Lambeau Field in the playoffs is probably not the place to be trash talking. Never heard of Brett Favre talking like that. That is why he is a Football hero and in 5 years time Hasselbeck will be forgotten (That and the fact Favre is a much better player obviously! Strange how most great sportsmen are real good guys!)

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Tank, I agree that some college football games are lasting a long time. But the bowl games are a different story. They have elaborate halftime shows, some of which take as long as 30 minutes. Remember, these bowl games have huge festivals around them, and the host cities want to celebrate them.

I referee high school and semi-pro football games. Most of the time I am lthe head linesman (the ref by the chains), so the head ref and field judge are the guys that handle clock management.  I let them know if the play is inbounds, out of bounds, which penalty, etc., and they confirm and run the clock accordingly. I don't have my rulebook in front of me, but we always go by NCAA rules (not National Federation of High Schools- those are slightly different).

As far as the clock stoppages, it's really not that bad. TV games have TV timeouts, just like the NFL. The clock does stop for a first down, but it starts on the referee's signal for "Ready for Play", usually right after the umpire places the ball down. At that point, the clock and the play clock both start up again. The games move faster when you go down to I-AA, Division 2 and 3. Those games can go as quick as 2:30.

As far a clock stopping for penalties, it depends upon whom the penalty is called. Offensive live ball penalties, clock starts on the ready. Defensive live ball penalties, the clock starts on the snap unless declined. Dead ball penalties (almost always unsportsmanlike calls) are always on the snap. But some discretion goes on...you can't penalize the non-offending team. If the offense is leading and the clock is winding down, the defense may take an intentional penalty to stop the clock. In that case, sometimes the clock will start on the ready, because the defense wants the clock to stop, and that's not fair to the non-offending team.

The other thing making games go longer is overtime. OT is untimed, and just goes until one team doesn't score. Yes, this makes games go as long as 4 hours.

The average NFL game goes 3:30. That's why they moved up the time from the 2nd game on Sundays to at least 4:15. With all the time stoppages in the NFL (replays, timeouts, ref discussions, injuries, penalties) these games go much longer than 3 hours. But the refs have a lot more control over play in college than the NFL. The NFL has a lot of delays due to players jawing, taunting and hitting after the whistle. These delays just extend the game, but you hardly see the refs do anything. In college situations like this, the flags fly and the coaches pull the hot-headed players (or they should, right Kellen Winslow?)

Sorry to rant, just wanted to get some points over.

Congrats to the USA Juniors! Good combo for me today: home sick + NHL Center Ice package = gold medal game on tv in bedroom!!

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the only way they could fail to score is either by turnover (which can be returned for TD) or a missed FG...both are pretty climactic.

was is anti-climactic watching Green Bay drive down the field just to get into field goal range Sunday? same idea, just more yardage needed.

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My idea for overtime is this:

If the game is tied as time reaches zero, let the team with the ball continue their progress until they either score or turnover.  Once the clock passes zero, play continues as normal until someone scores.  You can't call it unfair because the other team never had a chance, because they did.  You don't need to have a coin toss.  If you must have a tie, allow no more than three possessions for each team before the game is called.

--Roger "Time?" Clemente.

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I believe that if a game ends in a tie, the BCS computer should decide the better team and that side is declared the winner.  Results to be posted the Tuesday following the game.

I'm in a warped mood today.  Just got done with a 2-day visit from the CEO of my firm's biggest client.

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