Lloyd Carr’s tilting at windmills.

Lloyd Carr is on a crusade, baby… a personal quest to reduce the number of plays in a college game, because I suppose that the rest of us enjoying the game are having too much damned fun:

“We just did a study Sunday over the number of plays the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions have run offensively and defensively in their first four games,” Carr said on today’s Big Ten teleconference. “They’re averaging 130 snaps a game. We are averaging 147 plays. I just think it’s an issue that (NCAA president) Dr. (Myles) Brand, the NCAA, the doctors, the conference commissioners, the athletic directors (should examine.) In the NFL they’re doing things to protect their players because of the length of the games, they’ve done a good job there.

“We’re simply playing too many plays. If we average 147 snaps per game for 12 games, we would play the equivalent of 13 ½ NFL games. We’re playing with younger players and I think it’s too much and I don’t think it’s in the welfare and the safety of our players. Somewhere somebody needs to take hold of this issue and do some things to make it a better game for the players.”

Now, if I were a bit snippier, I’d make some comment about how a coaching staff that didn’t have the time to implement a competent game plan against a D1-AA opponent (which subsequently lost to another D1-AA team) suddenly has the time to conduct a study of teams it will never play, but let’s skip past that and take a look at Carr’s big point here.  As you can probably guess, Carr’s analysis is a bit questionable.

Carr says that the Bears and the Lions are averaging 130 plays a game.  But he leaves out an important distinction between the NFL and college:  the pro teams play a sixteen game season, while Michigan’s 147 plays a game apply to a thirteen game season (we’re giving Carr the benefit of the doubt and presuming that the Wolverines make a bowl game and his two cherry picked NFL teams don’t have a postseason).

If we do the math, here’s what we get:

  • 130 plays per game x 16 games = 2,080 total plays
  • 147 plays per game x 13 games = 1,911 total plays

So over the course of a complete season, Carr’s kids are involved in fewer plays than their NFL counterparts.

But things are even more lopsided than that.  After all, NFL rosters are limited to 46 players.  Depending on whether Michigan plays at home or on the road, Carr is suiting up somewhere between 70-100 players for a game.  So fewer plays over a college season are being spread between more players.

Of course, if all Carr is really worried about here is the safety and welfare of his players, maybe he should start by lobbying his conference to reinstate the bye week in Big Ten scheduling.   Of course, that might mean interfering with someone’s Thanksgiving holiday.  Carr and his staff probably have a Lions’ game to analyze then.

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