There’s a chance college football could make modifications to its overtime format before the NFL does.
The NFL’s overtime format was the subject of discussion after the New England Patriots’ 37-31 OT win over the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC championship game on Jan. 20. The Patriots won the coin toss and drove down the field to score a game-winning touchdown and deny the Chiefs the opportunity to have the ball. Critics of the NFL overtime format pointed to college football’s overtime format — where each team gets one possession starting at the opponent’s 25-yard-line — as an example of a fairer overtime system.
But college football’s overtime isn’t perfect, either. And the people in charge of the game are ready to discuss potential changes to the format heading into the 2019 season.
According to the AP, there will be February discussions about tweaks to the college football overtime format that would potentially limit the length of games. Since each team gets a possession, college football games can take a while to be settled. LSU and Texas A&M played an epic seven-overtime game in November that the Aggies won.
While those games are incredible to watch and produce some video-game-like statistics, they do raise some player-safety concerns. Players in all sports are more likely to get injured when they’re fatigued.
“Obviously that’s a lot of exertion on the student-athletes,” said West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons, who is in his first year as the chairman of the NCAA’s football oversight committee.
There is no support to allow games to end in ties, which were part of college football for decades.
[SEC coordinator of officials Steve] Shaw said he has received dozens of ideas about how to tweak overtime. The most common have to do with placement of the ball. With offenses operating more efficiently than ever, moving the starting line back 10 or 15 yards could make scoring more difficult. The rules committee will also consider eliminating extra point tries, forcing teams to go for 2 from the very first possession.
Teams currently have to go for 2 after the second OT
As scoring in college football continues to rise, moving the ball back to the 40 could be an easy fix. It would make it harder for teams to score touchdowns. But teams trading field goals would be problematic too if the goal is to shorten games. While college kickers are less reliable than those in the NFL, it’s easy to envision a game going to three or four overtimes solely via field goals.
Forcing teams to go for two immediately could be another strong solution if the NCAA rules committee wanted to shorten games.
There are even crazier ideas that will be discussed too.
Since the 2-point play often decides the longer overtime games — Texas A&M-LSU finally ended on the Aggies’ made conversion after LSU tried one and failed — why not go straight to 2-point plays from the 2-yard line after each team has had the ball twice? The first team to get a score and a stop wins.
Shaw said eliminating all place kicking in overtime will also be discussed. This could help address a less important issue: the team that wins the coin toss for overtime usually wins the game. Typically, the team that wins the toss chooses to play defense first so it knows what it will take to win when it has the ball.
The February discussions regarding overtime will happen as part of the NCAA rules committee’s annual meeting. If a specific change garners enough support, it will be made into an official proposal sent to member schools. The proposal can then be changed or approved by the playing rules committee later in the spring.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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