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Whining Over Rules Changes Won't Stop

Sep 6, 2006 – 3:55 PM
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Bruce Ciskie

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I have to admit that part of this is inspired by a post on the same subject that went up earlier today.

However, it's been on my mind, and Mike Lucas did cover it in The Capital Times Wednesday.

The major rule change in college football has been subject to much debate, both in the preseason discussions and during the first week of games. Now, we have actual results to look at, and they confirm what we suspected would happen.

Games are shorter (the shortest I've found is the Michigan-Vanderbilt game, which was officially timed at 3:03), but there are fewer plays being run.

Somehow, this is being blamed on television.

"The whole reason we're doing this is to shorten the game for TV," Minnesota coach Glen Mason told TCT columnist Mike Lucas. "It's not about the game, it's not about the players."

Granted, there wasn't a great uproar for the changes among fans, but the grumblings were increasing. Last year's Rose Bowl, a greatly entertaining game, ran three hours and 59 minutes, not counting the pregame or postgame shows on television. You can try to blame television all you'd like, but there were fewer full television timeouts in the Rose Bowl than there were in the Super Bowl. I'm sure you can figure out which game ran longer. If you can't, I'll give you a hint: Vince Young wasn't playing in the shorter game.

I come to the discussion with some knowledge of how media timeouts work. I've spent ten years in radio, much of it working with national and regional broadcast networks. They all give us what are called "formats", which detail when commercial breaks will be taken, how long they are, and which breaks the local station is allowed to run ads in.

In the NFL games, there are 19 total media timeouts. Timeouts are all 90 seconds in length. In college football games, there are 16 such "windows" for media timeouts of the same length. College halftimes, which are still longer than NFL halftimes, have been shortened as part of the rule changes.

I get a kick out of the coaches who act like television is this evil entity that is ruining college football. What they've all apparently (and quite conveniently, too) forgotten is that many of them earn part of their ridiculous salaries from doing television shows in their home markets. Not only that, but the revenue that these schools are bringing in from television contracts helps pay their salaries, as well as the expenses that they run up while traveling for recruiting, conventions, and games.

Need I go any further? Don't bite the hand that feeds you, coaches. If it weren't for television, many of the luxuries you enjoy as big-time college football coaches wouldn't exist.

The other argument they like to use, frankly, is an insult to your intelligence as a fan. In the FanHouse post I linked above, you get to read quotes from Urban Meyer (above, right) complaining about the number of possessions his team gets in a game now. He brings up the number of possessions some of his conference rivals had in their opening games.

Multiple coaches have talked about the fact that the rule changes shave 15-20 plays off a game, and they complain that this is hurting the quality of the games.

Apparently, these guys need to run 85 plays in a game in order for the game to be entertaining. If you were entertained by the Nevada-Fresno State game on Friday, you should be ashamed of yourself. After all, that game only had 130 total plays run in it. The Houston-Rice game must have been boring, despite the 31-30 final score and seesaw nature of the contest. Only 120 total plays were run. That's just not enough.

I don't need a certain number of plays to be entertained. Heck, that Miami-FSU game on Labor Day night could have run 200 plays, and I still would have found it exceptionally boring.

Good football is good football, and I find it hard to believe that people are noticing a drop of 10-20 plays in an average football game. Instead, the average fan is probably appreciative that the games are running, in some cases, as much as 45 minutes shorter than they were last year. It gives that fan more time to watch other games, or even talk to the wife once in a while (!).

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