The more things change, the more they stay the same. The NCAA receives a lot of criticism, but much of it is warranted. They like to come down hard when it’s easy and seem to hide or stay silent when it’s time for the tough decisions to be made. As usual, the NCAA can not stay out of its own way. They seem to enjoy fixing what isn’t broken while ignoring issues that need to be addressed.
One of the more recent examples of this is a proposal to change the college football overtime rules, as reported by Athlon Sport’s Bryan Fischer:
NCAA OT rules update: pic.twitter.com/uczlPjuO2r— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) March 12, 2021
College OT is indeed quirky, and it works.
The overtime in college is arguably one of the best features of the sport. Setting aside kickoffs in favor of placing the ball at the 25 yard-line may seem odd at first glance. However, ensuring a team has to play and execute on both offense and defense calls for a well-rounded approach in order to win.
Critics would say it’s too situational and a gimmicky version of football, much like a shoot-out in hockey or starting with a runner on second in baseball. Proponents of the rule cite the high stakes, the big plays, the memorable moments, and the instant classics that the college overtime scenario produces. Compared to professional football games that go into overtime, college football games are generally more memorable.
In short, the college overtime rules may not be perfect, and that is what makes them wonderful. No one would argue it isn’t a bit quirky, but it doesn’t hinder it from being exciting and effective.
It’s extremely rare to have a game go to multiple overtimes.
One may be asking: How rare is overtime in college football anyway? Great question and the answer is even better.
The following stats were found on this Reddit page.
How many games in FBS history have gone into overtime since the NCAA adopted overtime rules in 1996? 636. At 12 games a year and 130 FBS teams, that comes out to 1560 games a year. In those 25 seasons, that is a total of 39,000 games. Now I know there have not been 130 FBS teams in each of those 25 seasons, so let’s be conservative and look at the percentage of the 636 overtime games through 30,000 games. That comes out to .0212% of games go into overtime.
Of those overtime games, how many have gone into multiple overtimes? 206 or roughly 32% of overtime games and .0069% of college football games.
How many games have gone into seven or more overtimes? 5. Which is .0079% of overtime games and .000167% of all games.
All of this illustrates the NCAA is attempting to “fix” something that occurs considerably less than 1% of the time during games. Should the NCAA be focusing on an issue that occurs so rarely? Even if they perfected the fix, would it make a noticeable difference at all? That leads directly into the next point...
It’s a continued pattern of addressing the wrong issues.
Taking on a crusade to change things that likely don’t need to be changed is seen in numerous sports, including college football. It goes along with the theme of making changes in the name of player safety or pace of play that does not have a big impact on player safety of pace of play.
Similar to the point above, if a game is going into overtime, it’s already a foregone conclusion that the game will go long. Rather than focus on making long games as short as possible, why not focus on making normal games as short as possible?
What would college football games look like if the play clock between plays was shortened by five seconds?
Or what if booth reviews for plays had a time limit in which to make a decision?
Or what if blowouts went to a running clock.
None of these are necessary things that should be pursued, but the point is they better address the pace of play issue when compared to tweaking the overtime rules.
There’s a lot of beauty in college football, despite all of the imperfections associated with it. Even something great can be tweaked in attempts for improvement. The repeated issue with the NCAA seems to be they continue to focus on the wrong thing. Not only do they miss the forest for the trees, but they also miss the trees for the leaves. Nitpicking issues that aren’t a problem look foolish when the actual issues go unaddressed year after year. Since it’s the NCAA, they will put new tires on a car to squeeze on a thirty-year-old car in an attempt to squeeze out a few extra miles on a car with a transmission that keeps leaking fluid.