Monday, November 08, 2010

It ain’t over(time) until it’s over

A quick note is in order about the concept of overtime in football, and how these mini-games should not alter regular game statistics.
The argument/conversation about how to settle matters when two teams are deadlocked after regulation will never end. I just had a different complain to make.
The NFL method stinks – pure and simple. There’s a coin flip after three hours, and then 15 minutes played in a “sudden death” mode. However, the coin toss is often the determining factor for victory – not even permitting both teams to have an offensive possession. If one team moves close enough for a 50-yard field, then game over (without the other squad allowed to better that outcome).
The collegiate/high school method seems to be as fair as any (place the ball on the 25 and see what happens on alternating possessions). After the second series of action, touchdowns must be followed by two-point conversions (kickers can take a seat, thank you). That’s how Michigan was able to beat Illinois because, at the end, Illinois HAD to go for two points just to tie and U-M could not have a bad outcome when it launches its “jailbreak blitz.”
Since I referenced flag football in my earlier post, tie games used to be decided by running four alternating plays (one by one) from midfield. The winner was which side of the 50 that pigskin ended. Rather elementary, my dear Watson.
Of course, there are people who’d like to see evenness rewarded – no overtimes. Let the tie stand as it had been in college and the pros for decades.
The thing to which I object is the inclusion of overtime statistics in game and individual totals. They artificially inflate game stats and make performances go from great to gargantuan (since too many observers only use numbers to judge quality).
Here’s my reasoning: whatever happens during extra points does NOT count in NCAA statistics. Rushing or passing yardages on two-point conversions tries is not added to team or individual totals because … the clock does not run. It’s a non-play for only the purpose of producing an “extra point.”
If a defender scoops up a fumble, or grabs an interception, and runs it to the other end zone, it is only worth two points and not counted as a turnover. Because … it’s a non-play from scrimmage.
During overtime, the clock does not run because it is NOT a factor; Michigan, if it was humanly possible (which it wasn’t) could have taken 10-15 minutes to drive 25 yards in a maximum of 12 plays to score a touchdown – only the play clock is operating.
So why count all these yards and all these touchdowns on the official ledger when these are abridged scoring drives? The only outcome, other than determining a winner, is false inflation of numbers. Wolverine halfback Michael Shaw only scored one touchdown in the actual Illinois GAME, and had two “TD scores” in the overtime.
And, yes, I would not count these as legitimate scores on the scoreboard. Hockey does not count shootout goals to a player’s totals and neither does soccer during its tiebreaker.
I propose that the winner of the overtime earn two points for the victory (much like forfeits are technically scored as 2-0 for the winner because there are no “singles” in the American game (them Canucks do use the “rogue” in the CFL).
Now if only games all could be as exciting as the Wolverines’ overtime victory…because the ONLY statistic that matters is one – the number of wins.

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