Ah, football games are getting longer again. That means it’s time to roll out more bullshit. Larry Scott is ready to do his part.
“You’ll always get traditionalists who won’t change it,” Scott said. “I don’t find it concerning or daunting that there are some that would oppose it. I think the job for commissioners is to take a step back and look at it holistically. The health and welfare of student-athletes is first and fans are a close second in terms of keeping games appealing. Three-and-a-half hours, to me, is too long.”
Commish, please. You don’t give a rat’s ass about the fans or the players here. This is about television, pure and simple, specifically, how to keep your broadcasts within a specific time window.
“That 3:30 timeframe is kind of the magic number as we schedule games for television,” MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said. “There’s a continued creep. We’ve had peaks and valleys to it. We have to get our hands around it. If I’m looking at it from a fan perspective, when you get beyond three hours, are you starting to lose people’s interest?”
Now there’s some inspired spin, baby. Yeah, I get really antsy if a game goes a few minutes past three and a half hours duration. Just ask Rogers Redding, of all people.
“People at one level, there’s some concern about it,” national officiating coordinator Rogers Redding said. “But then you ask the question, who’s really complaining about it? Fans aren’t. Fans devote a whole day to a game. What’s another five minutes?”
If this is really about us fans, why are the folks in charge considering a running clock again, when we all thought that sucked the last time they tried it?
College football has gone down this road before. In 2006, the sport disastrously used a running clock after changes of possession. The rule reduced games to a 3:07 average and infuriated fans and coaches in the process.
The irony here is that it’s not the game that’s really causing the problem now. You know what is? Here’s a hint.
The high-pressure, commercialized world of FBS is playing a much longer game than other NCAA divisions. While FBS games averaged 3:23 in 2014, the Football Championship Subdivision was 2:55, Division II was 2:45 and Division III was 2:41.
Hmm… what sets the commercialized world of FBS apart from college football’s other divisions? Oh, yeah. Commercials!
Similarly, the 2012 and 2013 seasons had nearly identical stats for plays, scoring and pass attempts. Yet the game length in 2013 actually decreased by one minute from 2012, not increase by six minutes as it did in 2014. What gives?
“Commercial break lengths and the number are undoubtedly increasing,” said Richard Southall, director of the College Sport Research Institute. “Networks have to generate additional advertising revenue to pay for rights fees that are escalating. Simply put: gotta pay the piper!”
Benson agrees that television is the biggest reason for longer games.
“Our TV partners need it, but we also need to make sure we manage it,” Benson said. “A lot of times it’s coming out of commercials that games are delayed. The networks are always going to push the envelope and they’re paying the bills. They need to get as many spots in as they can.”
More commercials and less football, that’s what fans want, right? Right?
“I hear it a lot from fans: ‘What am I supposed to do for that three minutes? I can’t drink anymore. I can’t have anymore Cokes and peanuts. My God, let’s get going,'” Thompson said. “We’re trying to serve two audiences.”
No, you’re not. You’re trying to maximize your revenue stream. And that’s why we’ll come out on the short end of the stick with whatever change results from this. Thanks a lot, fellas.