Ties are like kissing your sister

Hunter Ford’s thoughts on college football and his column from the Western Star

I was glad to see Bama beat Vandy. It was a solid game for the Tide. In my column this week, I recall a few games from the days without overtime. I only like college overtime rules when Alabama wins. Like, the game in the Swamp in 1999. My biggest pet peeve with college OT is that two teams play a game of standard college football for 60 minutes, then, if it is a tie at the end of regulation, they play AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT GAME. Starting out at the 25, most teams with a solid kicker are guaranteed a filed goal if they don’t lose yardage. There is an entirely different strategy to it. I like NFL style sudden death, or in the alternative, NFL style OT with the team being scored on first having at least one possession to stay in the game.

I like the finality of do-or-die, win or lose, at the end of regulation, that has been missing since OT came on the college scene. It’s fourth and three on the opponent’s 15 yard line with 30 seconds left. A field goal ties it, but the coach goes for the win. A team scores a TD but needs the two points to win. A tie keeps them in first place in the conference, but the coach goes for the win anyway.

Here are a few Alabama tie games or OT games

1981… Southern Miss kicks a late filed goal for a 13 all tie that is like a loss for Bama and a win for SM.

1985 LSU 17 Alabama 17 (Ray Perkins gets criticized for not going for the win after Bama’s final TD. LSU still had a chance to win the game but the Tiger kicker dorked a short field goal as time expired)

1993 Alabama-Tennessee (read column)

2000 Orange Bowl against Michigan, Alabama misses a PAT that ends the game in OT.

Here’s a heartbreaker I witnessed… in the Hall of Fame Bowl in Tampa against Michigan following the 1987 season. Alabama comes from behind to take the lead on the Wolverines. Late in the game with Bama up 24-21 Michigan goes for it on fourth and long instead of trying the FG. The Michigan receiver is covered well by Bama DB Mangum (Chris?), but Mangum is facing the receiver…he doesn’t get his head around in time to swat the pass away…the Michigan pass falls over Mangum’s shoulder into the hands of the Michigan WR in the end-zone…Michigan wins 28-24. A great comeback by the Tide is spoiled…OUCH!

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Ties are like kissing your sister, but….

Hunter Ford

One of the most famous quotes attributed to legendary Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant was “A tie is like kissing your sister.” Many younger fans of college football may think of tie ball games as ancient history, if they contemplate them at all. And I realize that overtime games in major college football have provided some of the most thrilling games of all time. But I have a nostalgic recollection of tie games. In many ways, I believe there was something more noble about playing sixty minutes of football, and if there was no clear-cut winner, calling it a day and trying again next week.

Two games this weekend brought back some memories of the old tie ball game. If Auburn had been tied by South Florida, instead of losing, Tiger fans would still be wondering what’s wrong with their team. South Florida fans would most likely still be pleased that their Bulls invaded Jordan-Hare and exposed a chink in the Tiger’s armor.

Also, Fresno State would have put a blemish on the record of Texas A&M. But since the Aggies won their overtime game, at the end of the year most folks will only remember the “W” on the record and not the fact that A&M’s cowpokes were played dead even by a bunch of “Valley Boys” from the WAC. Overtime is necessary in post-season games for championships. You have to have a clear-cut winner in a championship game. But for regular season games, I believe tie games made for some more interesting on-the-field action. They also made things more interesting in terms of conference standings and poll rankings.

As far as on-the-field action goes, I believe there would actually be fewer instances of tie games at the end of regulation if there were no possibility of overtime.

Back in the olden days, most coaches would go for two late in a game if their team needed the two-point play to take the lead. They would also pass up a field goal opportunity late in the game if three points would only tie things up.

Here are some examples of three great games before the overtime rule. 1984 Orange Bowl, Miami 31 Nebraska 30

The Cornhuskers were undefeated and favored to beat the Hurricanes before Miami was considered a perennial power. A late touchdown put Nebraska within a PAT kick of tying the game. Cornhusker coach Tom Osborne could have ensured an undefeated season and possibly retained his team’s number one ranking by kicking for the tie. Instead, he called for two. Nebraska lost and the Miami dynasty began.

1993 Alabama 17 Tennessee 17

Alabama had not lost a game to the Volunteers in seven years. Tennessee quarterback Heath Shuler was picking apart the Tide defense in a methodical fashion at Legion Field. As the fourth quarter wound down, Alabama, trailing 17-9, finally put together a consistent drive. Following a Tide touchdown that made the score 17-15, Alabama coach Gene Stallings put elusive wide receiver David Palmer in at quarterback. Everyone in the stadium knew what was about to happen, but Tennessee couldn’t stop Palmer. The “Deuce” took the snap and slip-slided around end for the tying points. Alabama, after being beaten all day long, ruined the celebration party for the Vols. After seven long years of frustration, “not losing” was not the same as WINNING for Tennessee.

1988 Sugar Bowl Auburn 16 Syracuse 16

Auburn’s coach Pat Dye said he didn’t want to lose the game. Perhaps what he really wanted was to crush the Orangemen’s hopes for a share of the national championship. Syracuse came into the game with an 11-0 record. Auburn was 9-1-1. When Dye chose to kick for the tie with one second left in the game, Syracuse coach Dick MacPherson nearly had a conniption. Syracuse fans sent Dye neckties in the mail as a protest. Dye autographed them and gave them to charity.