Monday, August 14, 2006

Here's a Headline I'd Prefer Not to Read Again

Confessions of a Football Junkie: NCAA Should Copy NFL

Russell, I'm normally willing to cut any University of Michigan grad some slack. I'm also willing to cut the Pro Football Prospectus writers some slack because the Prospectus is simply outstanding, as evidenced by the fact that I've been lugging it to the gym with me at 6 a.m. for the past couple weeks so I can read about the Denver defensive line or Mike Vick's terrible footwork while trying not to vomit my dinner from the night before. (On the latter point, the PFP writers watched some footage of Vick on coaches tape with Ron Jaworski and Jaws pointed out that Vick often fails to even drop back in a straight line. As a result, he creates pressure even when the offensive line does its job. Go Falcons!)

That said, Levine is way, way wrong when he posits that college football should mimic the NFL with respect to management of the clock. As Levine points out, the average college game has significantly more snaps than the average NFL game. Thus, while the NFL crams as many commercials as possible into a 3:15 window (as epitomized by the much beloved score-commercials-kickoff-commercials sequence that has driven me from being a regular NFL watcher...well, that and marriage), college football games take longer, but they entail less commercial time proportionately and more actual football content, which, surprisingly enough, is what I want to see when I turn the TV on. College games do have longer halftimes than the pros (20 minutes as compared to 12), but I'd much rather deal with commercials crammed into one block that allows me to run errands for 20 minutes (or squeeze in a game of FIFA or, this season, change a diaper and clean off vomit from my Tyrone Butterfield jersey) instead of having them spaced out throughout a game.

What's most annoying about the changes to the college clock-keeping rules is not simply that the NCAA is trying to shorten the game, but instead that the NCAA is shortening the game by reducing the number of plays, while still retaining the bloated halftime and the lengthy commercial breaks that makes the official in the red hat at the 25-yard line less popular in college stadia than Fidel Castro in South Florida. The pie chart reflecting time spent during college football games is going to reflect a greater share on commercials and less on actual football this year. I try not to be a pollyanna by ignoring that the commercials pay for the games, but is it too much to ask that college football not follow the lead of the rapacious, soulless beast that is the NFL?

Yes, we really need to shorten the game so we can see more of this. I'll just start saving for my child's therapy now.

Levine also damages his credibility with this paragraph:

However, reason doesn’t always apply, especially with an organization that refuses to allow a championship playoff (citing additional missed class time for the players from the handful of schools that would be involved) yet passes over the objections of its coachs a rule extending the season to 12 games for every school.

The NCAA does allow championship playoffs in all of the divisions below I-A. The obstacle to the playoff comes from the major conference teams that make the decisions on the sport's post-season structure (such as by forming and running the BCS). In fact, one of the reasons that these schools oppose a playoff is that they would likely cede control over the revenue created by such a playoff to the NCAA, which would then distribute that revenue broadly to teams that had no hand in creating the revenue in the first place.

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