There are times when I think college football has a death wish.

So here’s a Dennis Dodd piece that, as is often the case, leaves me shaking my head.  Start with the questionable premise that college football games take too damned long.  You know why?  Well, don’t blame commercials, peeps, because they’re already baked into the cake.

We can talk about endless commercial breaks, but with TV being TV, that’s old news. The number of commercials basically remains static (see below). Reality TV has proven to be some of the highest-rated television. Whether its “Big Brother” or Alabama-Tennessee, those programs are — in some ways — always profitable platforms for commerce.

Nah, here’s the real problem.

Tempo teams run more plays. More plays mean more first downs. More first downs mean more stoppages of the clock. College football is unique in that it stops the clock to spot the ball after each first down.

Record scoring (30.3 points per team) means more frequent stoppages. That means the average game is halted 10 times for traditional scores (touchdown or field goal). In the nation’s highest-scoring league (Big 12), that number is 11.5 stoppages per game.

“The games are taking a long, long time,” said Baylor coach Jim Grobe. “The way we throw the football around, playing a team that is talented offensively that can make for a long game.”

Yep.  It turns out college football’s real faux pas here is giving us too much college football.  I bet you didn’t see that one coming.

Just to give you a benchmark against which to judge the absurdity of this line of thought, consider that the NFL, in the face of declining ratings, is pondering the possibility of cutting back on advertisements as a means of shortening game broadcasts.  Eh, what do those guys know about marketing, anyway?

Meanwhile, Mike Gundy wants the networks to know he’s got his heart in the right place.

“I think it’s fair to start talking about the length of games,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. “The pace of offenses, increased plays, number of attempted passes and maybe — more so in our league — is affecting the games.

“I’m a little surprised we haven’t heard much from the networks on this. There’s probably a fairness to talking about games being 12-minute quarters instead of 15 based on the amount of time the clock is stopped based on forward passes that are incomplete.”

Oklahoma State, by the way, leads the nation this season in game length average.  Maybe Gundy’s just looking for a little more Saturday quality time with the family.

Of course, no discussion about improving the college football product would be complete without Bob Bowlsby weighing in, so here’s your typical Bowlsby contribution to the discussion:

Bob Bowlsby said game length has gotten the attention of the NCAA Football Oversight Committee that he chairs.

“If we decided we weren’t going to kick off anymore or only kickoff in certain situations, you save a fair amount of time then,” said Bowlsby, also the Big 12 commissioner. “That’s exactly why we put the oversight committee together — to take a holistic look at it. It’s going to continue to be on our agenda.”

I, for one, welcome our new holistic overlords.  Good to see they’re on the mother.


Filed under College Football

24 responses to “There are times when I think college football has a death wish.

  1. JCDAWG83

    I guess the common practice of a tv timeout after a score followed by a kickoff, followed by another tv timeout isn’t affecting the length of a game? You have a situation where, if the kickoff goes through the end zone, 10 minutes or so goes by and no time runs off the game clock.

    I went to a Georgia Southern game a few years ago that was not televised. It was amazing how smoothly the game flowed and how much more enjoyable it was to watch live.


    • beat me to it. There is a lot of wasted time.

      Take your same scenario – TD – TV – KO – TV – play resumes, TO on field.

      That will easily go over 10 minutes with no play. But its the length of quarters and first downs? Right.


  2. They don’t have to have a TV timeout after every stoppage of play. High schools play 12-minute quarters with pretty much the same clock rules colleges used to use. They finish a game in 2 1/2 hours including a 20-minute halftime. I wonder why …


    • PTC DAWG

      Basically one less quarter, 2.5 hours is long for a HS game, IMHO.


      • Ok – it’s about 2 hours to 2:15. The point is the college game takes too damn long because of all of the TV timeouts that interrupt the flow of the game. When you have sometimes close to a 5 minute break between a score and a kickoff or a TV timeout during a replay or an injury, it gets ridiculous for people in attendance.


  3. Bright Idea

    It isn’t the number of clock stoppages that is the problem, it is the length of the stoppages. That can be blamed on 5 minute commercials. Stopping the clock on first downs is insignificant because it is only for a few seconds.


  4. Macallanlover

    Like it or not, the point is fair. More 1st downs, more scores, etc. lead to more commercials and voila, we have games almost averaging 4 hours regularly. Stop with the imbalance and let the defense have a chance. I don’t want 16-3 games again, as a rule, but 40-50 total point games tend to be more entertaining to me than 52-38 games are. Big 12 is often unwatchable, PAC12 is right there too, but the bigger culprit is lack of holding calls, ticky tacky PI calls, and allowing the QB to negate a great defensive opportunity by the QB flipping their wrists and saving 12 or more yards and avoiding a sack. A limit on total minutes of commercial time would be nice too, but doubt we see that….ever.


  5. Got Cowdog

    I get to see a lot of high school football thanks to my job. I may have to turn in my card for saying this, but I would rather be on the sideline at a high school game than in the nosebleed seats at Sanford.
    That being said, I surely enjoy being in front of the big screen on Saturday or at my favorite watering hole cheering on the Dawgs. I don’t mind commercials, I just make them part of the drinking game.


  6. W Cobb Dawg

    As I’ve said before, a lot of the delays aren’t even for commercials. The networks spend much of the valuable broadcast time plugging their other shows. Drives me nuts during the interminably long delays on CBS, which we’ll experience tomorrow. Hard for me to believe there’s justification for plugging prime time TV shows from a cost-benefit perspective. Seems to me the networks waste much of their most valuable air time.


    • doofusdawg

      And the multitude of overproduced human interest stories which get squeezed in at set times regardless of what is going on or has just happened on the field. Got to do some something for the folks watching that don’t really understand or care what’s happening in between the whistles.


  7. 92 grad

    More evidence that tv money is going to systematically ruin the things that make college football great. These beurocratic puppets can’t even say the obvious source of the problem as outlined in the very first comment of this thread. It’s not the style of play, it’s using all the clock stoppages for tv timeouts. Unfortunately, televised games are so common now they might not even realize it, which is also stupid.



    I get to see 12-13 UGA games a year, not complaining about an extra 30 minutes each time….


  9. Calidawg

    It doesn’t take a Mensa candidate to realize commercials are the problem here. See any 6.5 hour slugfest on CBS as evidence. First down, commercial. Touchdown, commercial. Extra point. Commercial. Kickoff, commercial. Player loses a shoe. 20 seconds of promos for stupid CBS shows. Sometimes it feels like there are commercial breaks within the commercial breaks.


    • AusDawg85

      This, but you also left out the nearly automatic replay review of the play before the score, then the scoring play. So add the increased # of replays to the laundry list of long delays.


      • JCDAWG83

        Give each coach 2 reviews per half with no penalty if the challenge is not upheld. Do away with the replay official being able to call down and stop play. If a player or coach feels strongly enough that a ball was caught or not caught, fumbled or not fumbled or a player was in or out of bounds, use one of the challenges.

        I think this alone would save about 20-30 minutes per game.


    • Sh3rl0ck

      There are commercial breaks within the commercial breaks. Those are the commercials sold by the local CBS affiliate.


  10. Sh3rl0ck

    I want to see a study that shows that they have not increased the number of commercials, the length of commercials, the amount of on air time spent advertising whatever shitty new show CBS is pimping, the amount of time spent showing highlights from other games, etc.

    As a student, the untelevised or PPV games were generally over in 2:45. Even CBS televised games were only 3:30.

    There is a god damn tv timeout after every kick. One in five plays involves a kick. A typical game has 11 minutes of actual action and over an hour of commercials. Watch a soccer game. It goes like this.

    Introduction, injury report (3-4 minutes)

    Lineups, National Anthems (4-5 minutes)

    45 Minutes of actual game time
    < Half time with analysis and commercial breaks > (15 minutes, 20 tops)
    45 Minutes of actual game time

    Post game analysis, player and coach interviews, etc.

    The whole thing is done is two hours. That is 1:30 of game time with 30 minutes of commercials and analysis. The networks manage to do this profitably.


    • Sh3rl0ck

      Hmm, I did some incorrect formatting that left out three instances of
      “< commercial break > I think it was the lack of spaces. It should be:

      intro, break, lineups, break, 45 mins of game time, half time, 45 mins of game time, break, post game.


  11. Faulkner

    DVR. That’s my answer to commercials. Wait an hour, work on the egg, make drinks then roll the tape.