As an unwashed American football fan there is nothing quite like Saturday afternoon's come fall time. The pageantry and emotion of college football is something to behold. It washes over this great nation of ours from Labor Day to New Year's, bringing memories of games won and lost, and stories which speak to the soul. The game, however, is not without flaw. I submit to you five rule changes that would remedy what I consider small residue on the nearly-spotless garment of college football. (EDITORS NOTE: THIS IS NOT ANOTHER LAME ANTI/PRO BCS ARTICLE. YOU ARE FREE TO CONTINUE READING)
1. EXCESSIVE CELEBRATION
The idea of implementing an excessive celebration penalty has its merits. The college game, more so than the professional variety, values sportsmanship and friendly competition. The NCAA certainly doesn't want players to be showing up their opponents after every completed five yard out or 14 yard run. I get it. But the idea that athletes should be forced to bridle every emotion which "calls attention to oneself" fights against what makes the game great. Especially when it comes to touchdown celebrations. Nothing, and I mean nothing, drives me crazy like an official getting directly in the face of a player just as he enters the endzone. "Don't you DARE show emotion. Walk back to the sideline. NOW!" Hey folks, it's a damn game. As long as the players are not taunting an opponent (see DeSean Jackson in the NFL Exhibit A, B, C, et al) the rules should allow for celebration. There is already a taunting penalty on the books, in addition to the excessive celebration statute. Impose the first; burn the latter.
Here are three famous examples of this ridiculous rule in action:
Down 12-7 with just over a minute left in 2009, Georgia's AJ Green makes a tremendous catch for the go-ahead touchdown. He then celebrates with his teammates. He just goes too far...I guess. Look at this referee seeking him out. Goodness. The 15-yard penalty was assessed on the kickoff and LSU, aided by terrific field position, won the football game 20-13.
In last year's Pinstripe Bowl Adrian Hilburn was flagged for excessive celebration after a small salute to the crowd. Trailing by two points, Kansas State was forced to try a potential game-tying conversion from the 18-yard line with just over a minute to play. It was unsuccessful and the Wildcats were defeated.
After a terrific last minute drive had his Washington Huskies inside the BYU ten yard line with under ten seconds remaining, Jake Locker made a terrific individual effort to score a touchdown to bring Washington within an extra point of tying the contest. Caught in the moment, Locker threw the ball in the air in exuberance. NO SOUP FOR YOU! The stripes throw the flag, the 35-yard PAT is blocked, and nationally-ranked BYU escapes.
On top of all this, now in 2011 the rule gets even worse! If an offending celebrator begins his celebration before entering the endzone, the touchdown is taken away and the penalty assessed from the spot of the jubilation's origin. Oy.
2. HORSE COLLAR
Another codified NCAA endeavor which meets the "good intention, bad execution" test is that of horse-collar tackling enforcement. This is a relatively new rule in college football, designed to keep players from being injured when brought down by a horse collar tackle. I have watched as much college football as humanly possible (Bring on the Hyperbole!) and I can never remember an injury transpiring from the horse collar maneuver. If I am wrong, by all means let me know. The rule punishes defensive players, whose only charge is to get the ball-carrier down by any means necessary. (Excluding face masking/tripping/you know what I mean) A defender simply doesn't premeditate a tackle using the horse collar. It happens when the angle is just right...and the play needs to be made.
3. OVERTIME SPOT
The idea of both squads receiving an overtime possession has its bedrock in the college game. Since its inception in the mid 1990's, college overtime has always been the fairest way to decide a hotly contested matchup which has stretched the bands of regulation time. The NFL has now done away with a complete sudden-death overtime format. (You now have to score at least a touchdown to be victorious) I argue that the overtime possession in college football should start on the 40-yard-line to begin the session. This is 15 yards further than what is currently implemented. There is simply too much emphasis on the coin toss. If you win the toss, elect to play defense, hold your opponent to zero, the game is in your hands. Simply kick the 42-yard field goal and ride off into the sunset.
If the ball were placed on the 40-yard-line, each team would be forced to gain at least a first down to enter field goal range. Unless of course...you have this guy on your team...
Dustin Hopkins. That would have been good from about 80 yards.
Suffice it to say, moving the overtime spot to 40-yards would put both sides on an even playing field. Each would need to gain yardage to get into scoring territory. In today's game, so long as you win the coin toss, you can sit on your hands, play it safe, and win the game. For a game so hotly contested, an overtime game should be won on both sides of the ball.
4. LET CORNERS DEFEND
One day I would like to be a United States Senator. It has always been a goal of mine. On my first day in Washington, I will introduce legislation classifying defensive backs as "protected citizens." No one is picked on more than cornerbacks and safeties. It is a shame how many pass interference calls are issued on defensive backs who are simply making a good play on the ball. With the game already favoring the offense, both explicitly in over-penalizing the defense and implicitly by the very nature of blindly defending receivers running designated routes, let's strike a battle for the subjected secondary men who work every Saturday at a stadium near you.
5. FIRE ALL PAC-12 REFEREES
Who can bring up horrible rules and spotty officiating without mentioning the Pac-10 (Now Pac-12)?
Enjoy these FOUR flaming turds:
Listen to those Oregon fans!
AND OF COURSE...
This one doesn't have anything to do with the Pac-12...and it really has nothing to do with a rule change. Unless we are outlawing soccer players. Trust me, it's worth your time.
College football is a small diagnosis and treatment away from perfection. Did I write the correct prescription? What rules, if any, would you change?