Daily Archives: July 28, 2008

The shocking truth

The LA Times’ Chris Dufresne is a funny guy.  From his “Looking Ahead” column today:

* Dec. 7: Final BCS standings release.

Aftermath: National sports columnist from hometown team left out of title game discovers the sport is controversial.

Aftermath II: President of school that finished No. 3 in standings calls news conference to unveil his eight-team playoff plan.

Aftermath III would have something to do with an over the top John Feinstein piece, but we’ll leave that for another time – like when Feinstein writes it.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Media Punditry/Foibles

Don’t be a hata, Jim Rome.

Damn… Florida’s got the better gameplanner, the superior program, superior athletes and the superior system.

So how in the hell did Meyer’s boys lose last year?

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Filed under Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

If at first you don’t succeed, will they let you try, try again?

With all the drama we witnessed in fashionable Hoover, Alabama last week, it’s easy to forget that the SEC wasn’t the only conference busy entertaining the media.  The Big Ten held its media bash last week as well, and though the focus was no doubt on RichRod, there was another story to consider:  how will the conference’s best team fare in the national title hunt?

Make no mistake about it, Ohio State has two very strong things going for it this season, as College Football News highlights – a loaded, experienced team and a favorable schedule.

It’s just that there’s this nagging bit of baggage trailing after these guys.

Tired of scarlet and gray in the national championship game? You might not be alone. Ohio State’s poor showings in the past two BCS title games could have reached critical mass with the pollsters.

At least that was the opinion of Buckeyes quarterback Todd Boeckman on Friday at the Big Ten media days. This might be news to those in Ohio, but Ohio State has been ripped by critics after being dominated by Florida and LSU in the final game.

Asked if his team would get the benefit of the doubt from voters if they are in position to play for the championship again, Boeckman said, “If it comes down to it, probably not because of where we’ve been in the past.”

Obviously, OSU will start in the top five in the polls this year.  Beat Southern Cal and the Buckeyes can start shopping for sunscreen to pack for Miami.  But what if they lose in LA?  What if they lose in a close one in LA and run the rest of the table?  Or alternatively, what if they win in LA, but drop a conference game?  Where does a one-loss Ohio State team fit in the mix and how long are voters’ memories, anyway?

Those will be interesting questions to follow all year, particularly if in the end there are no undefeated BCS conference teams in D-1 football again.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Big Ten Football

“We can just go, go, go, go, go as fast as we want.”

CHANGING THINGS

The NCAA has implemented several rules changes this season, some of which affect the clock:

Clock-related

— Following a play that goes out of bounds, the game clock will now start on the referee’s signal and not on the snap, with the exception of the last two minutes of each half.

— The play clock will be set to 40 seconds and will start when the ball becomes dead on the previous play. A 25-second clock that will begin on the referee’s signal will be used after a penalty administration, measurement, change of possession and timeouts, whether they be charged, media or injury.

Ah, game times.  The NCAA keeps trying to find that sweet spot that will satisfy coaches, fans and… the 800 pound gorilla in the room.

… Trying to shorten games — because television networks aren’t reducing their commercial time — was the primary motive for the change. Another new rule that should have a bigger impact in that aspect is the game clock now will start once the ball has been made ready following a play that goes out of bounds.

Under old rules, the game clock would not start until the snap, and the old rules have been left in place for the final two minutes of the half and game.

Two years ago, sweeping changes that included starting the game clock after changes of possession resulted in the length of games going from 3 hours, 21 minutes to 3:07. There were roughly 13 fewer plays a game, however, and five fewer points per contest than the year before.

When the NCAA scrapped that plan and went back to the old rules a year ago, the number of plays and points returned to former levels. The length of games, to nobody’s surprise, ballooned to 3:22.

Three significant rules changes in three years.  I have to admit some sympathy for Urban Meyer when he complains that

“The clock rule is the third one in three years, and I don’t want to get started on that because I don’t agree with it,” Florida’s Urban Meyer said. “You keep moving that hat around a little bit. Now coaches have to relearn a rule that’s going to have a significant impact on the game. How significant? I have no idea, but it just keeps changing and that bothers me.”

The “I have no idea” part – I’m not sure anybody does at this point.  Part of that may be because there’s something of an all things to all men component to the new rules.  Here’s what Mark Richt has to say with regard to that:

“The officials are going to get out of the way, and there might still be 30 or 32 seconds on that 40-second clock, where before the most you would ever have is 25 at the line,” Richt said. “I think you’re going to see more teams quick-snapping it, and I think you’re going to see more teams also simulating like they’re going to quick-snap to try to recognize what’s going on and then sit there at the line of scrimmage and have literally 20 or 25 seconds to deliberate.

“That might drive some people nuts. I don’t know.”

There are some limits.  The offense doesn’t have complete control over the clock.  As the article notes, offenses still can’t substitute freely or go from one personnel group to another and snap the ball quickly, and defenses still will get time to make their own personnel changes.  Plus, there will be a number of situations during a game where the clock rules revert to the previous regime.

Still in all, it could be an interesting experiment.  Game management becomes an even bigger chess match between coaches that want to generate as many plays as possible and those that want to shorten the clock as much as they can.  The effect of the new rules on certain statistics related to game management, such as number of plays run and time of possession will tell some of this story.  Let’s just hope that this set of changes makes us happy… or at least comfortable.  Enough with the tweaking.

Speaking of happy, let’s let Richt have the last word here.

… Georgia’s Mark Richt labeled himself “jealous” when asked about the change, because he tried to play fast earlier this decade with David Greene at quarterback…

“Seven years ago, I would have been thrilled about it,” Richt said. “My ambition was to play as fast as we could possibly play and run the no-huddle and get to the line of scrimmage as fast as possible and get the ball snapped in a hurry and run as many plays as possible. We were not allowed to do that.

“In my opinion, the officials in this league were more deliberate than in any league I had been. The SEC, to me, was grinding it to a halt. Now, all of a sudden, you can play as fast as you want to play.”

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, Strategery And Mechanics, The NCAA