College football is upon us, and with it comes another round of rules changes by the NCAA. This year’s perversion of the perfect game is a new 40 second clock. Instead of a play clock set to 25 seconds and started on the referee’s signal, the clock will now start counting down immediately (from 40 seconds) when the ball becomes dead. That is supposed to add more “flow” and consistency to the game.
Alabama fans…Auburn fans (and I know you’re reading this because you’re Aubsessed with us)…for once I think we can all agree on something. Whoever “they” are, “they” need once and for all to stop tinkering with the rules of the greatest game ever played.
Baseball, the sports worlds’ version of watching paint dry, is for some reason immune to such heresy. In fact, the game is regarded as sacred. While admittedly there isn’t a whole lot one can change about it, there is at least an applied reverence to baseball where people do the right thing and leave it alone.
But not college football. No sir.
Which is why in 2006 we had to endure a new “running clock” rule that abbreviated the game we wait all year to watch, reducing it on average by 15 minutes and 14 fewer plays per game. After that season, where late game comebacks were all but impossible (because of an increased difficulty to stop the flippin’ clock), the rules committee voted to go back to the old system. So we had a year of sanity in 2007, and the networks had to get over broadcasts lasting 3 1/2 hours. But oh, was it so brief. The latest rule change is simply a backdoor attempt to accomplish the same objective in 2006.
I do have to admit, there have been some good rules instituted through the years:
â€¢Rubber covered balls were approved in 1956, but banned as late as 1993.
â€¢A standard football shape and circumference in 1982.
â€¢Legalization of face masks (sorry dentists) in 1951, but not made illegal to grab until 1957 (sorry chiropractors).
â€¢Thanks to the HIV scare, bleeding players forced to leave the field of competition (1993).
â€¢Roughing the passer added in 1914, but not made an automatic first down unitl 69 years later (1983).
â€¢Kick-offs at the 40 yard line in 1925, then the 35 in 1986, now the 30.
â€¢Overtime introduced to break ties (1996)…but what in the world took over 100 years to get to that point?
Then you have rules that seemingly try to talk out of both sides of “the game’s” mouth:
â€¢Intentional grounding is illegal and a loss of down…unless you receive the snap and move about seven feet to your left or right, “breaking the tackle box”…but you CAN be inside the tackle box, take the snap, and throw the ball straight down and it’s okay. Can you imagine trying to come up with rules for your children like that?
â€¢Instant replay was introduced, FINALLY letting us get it right so that the game is determined by the play of the athletes on the field and not the inability for middle-aged men to see action happening around them at 120 mph (sorry Freddie Kitchens to Curtis Brown in 1995, Bama’s first win in Jordan-Hare, and sorry Preston Gothard in 1982 when you beat Penn State but were robbed). But we don’t want to get it TOTALLY right, only making SOME plays eligible for review. You still can’t review pass interference. Really? One of the most damaging no calls or bad calls that can turn a game? (see consecutive Bama-LSU games in 2004 and 2005)
One good rule change this year is a clearer definition of the chop block; gee, I wonder who THAT rule was clarified for? And every opponent on Auburn’s schedule breathes a collective sigh of relief.
But overall, can we just circle the wagons and say enough is enough? Can you imagine your grandmother continuing to tinker with that perfect chocolate cake you came to love? And we’ve all seen that person who’s had one too many plastic surgeries. Please NCAA Rules Committee, leave our beloved game alone. There are enough freakshows out there already.