Ten tweaks that could improve college football
Published: Sunday, July 27, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, July 26, 2014 at 8:49 p.m.
If there is one word that gets overused in news conferences, it is the word “tweaked.” How can one tweak an offense and also a hamstring? Can you tweak a calf muscle while twerking?
The word has become a way for coaches and players to disguise their intent or the extent of an injury. If you tweak your red zone offense, it might be that you put in a new play or a new formation. Guys have tweaked body parts and missed six weeks. Remember when John Calipari said he was tweaking the Kentucky attack? All he did was ask Andrew Harrison to be a true point guard instead of a scorer.
I bring up the word because I'm about to tweak. Not twerk. That would be ugly.
I am going to tweak the game I love the most. I love college football so much I want to send it flowers on opening day. I adore it the way some people adore their cars or their bank accounts.
But college football is not perfect. I'm not talking about autonomy or players getting paid or conference realignment that makes your head spin.
I'm talking about the game itself.
So here I go with 10 tweaks for college football. It may not be broken, but I can still try to make it better.
1. Two-minute warning
Why not? The NFL has it to give teams a better chance of scoring at the end of each half. An extra timeout would be huge in an endgame situation. I don't really understand why college football hasn't done this. For one thing, it's an extra block of commercials available.
2. Overtime from the 35
I wrote a column a while back saying that college football overtime is my favorite thing in all of sports. And it is. But I also realize that the 25-yard line is too easy. It's a 42-yard field goal. I know some coaches want to move it back to the 50. That's too far. Takes the excitement out of overtime. The 35 would be perfect. You'd at least have to make a first down to have a reasonable field-goal attempt. And if one team holds another scoreless, it wouldn't run three times up the middle and kick a field goal to win.
3. Change the celebration rule
When the fuddy-duddys came up with the 15-yard penalty for excessive celebration, they were trying to stop the outlandish. But too many times (and the Vandy penalty against Earl Bennett vs. Florida in 2005 is the one that sticks out), the officials overreact. You take your helmet off and pull out fake six shooters, and I agree with 15. But mild forms of celebration shouldn't be as penalized. Make those five yards.
4. Kickoff from the 40
Remember when the kickoffs were from the 40? But there was a movement to move it back to the 30 because too many kickers were able to boom the ball into the end zone and the kickoff return was a non-factor. So they moved it back to the 30. And then to the 35 because of safety concerns. Those concerns are legitimate, so why not the 40? And then, an onside kick that is recovered by the kicking team sets it up with a real chance to score because that team would be in the opponent's territory.
5. Go to an eighth official
The SEC is going to experiment with an extra official in select games. It should be for every game, and I think we're heading in that direction. With the uptempo offenses, the officials need to be set with all eyes on the play. The eighth official would make that happen.
6. Officiate every game like a championship game
Have you ever noticed how few holding penalties are called in an SEC Championship game or how few penalties are called in a BCS Championship game? The officials want to let the players play. Why not do that all of the time?
7. No duplicate numbers
This has bugged me for a long time. I get that teams have more than 100 players in practice and have to duplicate numbers. But not in games. There is no real reason for a public address announcer to get confused and say, “Tackle on the play by Jeff Driskel.”
8. Make interference a spot foul
There was a concern that an official's judgment call was making a long pass that had a slim chance of being completed a long gain so the rule was changed many years ago to make it a 15-yard penalty. This encourages a player beaten on a play to tackle the receiver. Go back to making it a spot foul.
9. Retro the bowl stats
I think it's ridiculous that a player today has his bowl statistics counted in his totals, but a player who played before 2002 does not. It wouldn't be that difficult to go back this summer and have every school's sports information department update the stats retroactively. Heck, I'll do it if they can't handle it.
10. Adopt the Saban Rule
You're probably thinking, “Which one?” But one thing Nick Saban said that I agree with is the the new College Football Playoff Committee should slot all of the bowls and that a 5-7 team that has played a brutal schedule should go to a bowl game over a 6-6 team that played nobody of any consequence. It would reward better teams, give us better bowl games and push athletic directors to schedule better teams.
Some of these suggestions might come off as crazy, some make sense to you. Either way, I'm still going to watch. As long as I don't tweak an optic nerve.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.
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