Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Shorter games, facemask penalties being discussed

Shorter games could be on the way for college football, thanks to some rules ACC officiating coordinator Doug Rhoads explained to coaches at the ACC spring meetings Tuesday.

The clock will continue running when players go out of bounds, except for the last two minutes of each half. And it’s hoped that going to an NFL-type, 40/25-second play clock will standardize the amount of time between plays.

Rhoads said the new clock rules could allow more plays in a shorter time. So games could have nearly the same amount of plays but get completed more quickly.

“That was one of the goals,” Rhoads said. He said the average length of an NFL game is 3 hours, 3 minutes. College games take more than 3:22 to complete.

Another change is the elimination of the 5-yard facemask penalty. All facemask penalties will be 15 yards, but flags will fly only if players grab the mask and twist.

There will be no penalty when players accidentally grab the facemask but quickly release it. – Ken Tysiac

Thursday, May 1, 2008

BCS blew chance to get it right

Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer was talking last week about meeting Auburn in the Sugar Bowl at the end of the 2004 season.

Auburn completed an undefeated season with a 16-13 win against the Hokies in the bowl but didn’t have a chance to play for the national championship. Southern California smashed Oklahoma 55-19 in a meeting of undefeated teams in the Orange Bowl to win the title.

“After having played Auburn, I’m quite convinced they deserved a chance at that national championship,” Beamer said.

That’s one reason Beamer favors a “plus-one” national championship format – an idea the BCS conference commissioners rejected this week at their meetings in Hollywood, Fla.

SEC Commissioner Michael Slive proposed a plus-one arrangement calling for two bowls to serve as semifinals, with a third bowl matching the semifinal winners.

Beamer – and a lot of college football fans – consider that an improvement over the BCS, which matches No. 1 vs. No. 2 in a bowl each year. They believe the chances of getting the correct champion double when you have four teams in the process instead of two.

But the commissioners agreed Wednesday to continue the current BCS arrangement, which will remain in place for at least six more years.
College presidents are uneasy about any kind of playoff. The Big Ten and Pac-10 commissioners prefer a system that interferes as little as possible with their lucrative contract with the Rose Bowl and ABC, which ends after the bowls that conclude the 2013 season.

That’s too bad, because in three of the past four years, the BCS title games have been unsatisfying. It started with the fiasco with three undefeated teams in 2004 cited by Beamer. In the past two BCS title games, we’ve squirmed uncomfortably watching a plodding Ohio State team get crushed by superior opponents from the SEC.

It’s likely that only the epic Texas win against Southern Cal at the end of the 2005 season matched the nation’s two best teams.
In most businesses, getting it wrong 75 percent of the time gets you fired. But it has the BCS in an “unprecedented state of health,” to quote BCS chair and ACC Commissioner John Swofford, who had at least kept an open mind to the plus-one idea.

For something that’s so healthy, the BCS sure makes a lot of people who care about the game sick.

-- Ken Tysiac