Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Flipping out over overtime
This should have been easy. This shouldn't have taken hours of meetings, blocking the schedules of NFL owners and staffs for a month and reporters chasing down those same harumphing owners down hallways of hotels to get sound bites.
The new NFL rule changes regarding overtime were finally voted on by the owners between harumphs Tuesday, and passed 28-4. So what does it all mean in Week 4 of the 2010 season, when, say, the Giants and Cowboys finish regulation all tied up?
Not a thing.
For years, we heard about how the team who wins the coin flip for overtime usually wins in the NFL -- and over the past 10 seasons, that's happened about 60 percent of the time. The most common scenario is a team receiving the kickoff to start OT, drive about 40 yards or so and kick a winning field goal.
So with a chance to level the playing field, so to speak, and make OT a fairer proposition, the NFL decided to change its overtime rules, allowing the above scenario to not end games from now on. Instead, the team scored upon will then get a possession to try to tie the game with a field goal or win with a touchdown (if the team with the first possession scores a TD, the game is still over).
But that will only happen in the POSTSEASON. The regular season will still be same-old, same-old, nothing to see here.
One reason given by some owners for the status quo was that they didn't want to see the chances of injury raised by adding more time to regular-season games, but that skirts the real issue.
The NFL had a great opportunity here, and quite frankly, they booted it wide right. The obvious way to go was a direction that I've seen little written about around the internet, except just mentioned in passing on a couple of random blogs I saw.
As Lee Corso says in my favorite video game of all time, NCAA 06, "I love overtime in college football." The only argument you'll get from me here is that the NFL should have adopted the same rules used to break overtime in the NCAA since 1996 -- give each team a set of untimed downs from the opposing 25-yard-line, with ensuing possessions until the tie is broken. Starting with the third set of possessions, teams must attempt a two-point conversion rather than kicking the extra point.
Overtime in the NCAA is exponentially more exciting than the NFL variety, and remains so even after all the time and energy spent by the NFL to simply tweak their current rules. The significance of the NCAA coin toss is that the winner will most often choose to play defense first in order to get "last licks" and know exactly what they have to do in order to win on the opening possession. In succeeding possessions, the order is swapped.
I tried to research it, but couldn't find any tangible reasons why the NFL didn't simply adopt the far superior settlement of OT games used by their collegiate counterparts. Could it simply be that doing so would have made the NFL admit the college way was better all along? I really hope there's more to it than that.
The fear of injury? Over adding one or two more series a game? Come on.
There was no reason the NFL couldn't easily split the uprights on this one. But somehow, they shanked it.