Covering prep sports for a living you learn there are some rules and/or changes I wish I’d see happen over the course of my lifetime.
Today’s installment will look at football.
Allow for tie prep football games: Really, this one counts for the college game as well. So what if a game finishes tied. I don’t. Sometimes having things ‘unsettled’ creates more drama and controversy. I’d love to see the MHSAA adopt just one ‘overtime session’ for each team during a tie game instead of unlimited until the game is settled. And to add more drama, instead of playing the series of downs for both teams first-and-goal at the 10, why not make it first-and-10 at the 20? That should help make one possession a team break more ties.
See coaches decline more penalties, especially on defense: This goes for every level from prep football to professional football. It seems coaches are still thinking we are in the 1970s when it comes to penalties. I was watching a Central Michigan University game last night and the Chippewas forced an incomplete pass on first down. Kent State had a five-yard penalty and the Chippewas took it. I’d almost never take this penalty with today’s wide open game. Why give a team three more chances (maybe four more since the trend is to go for fourth downs more frequently) to gain 15 yards instead two to gain 10? With passing games, it almost seems more likely a team will gain 15 yards in three plays, knowing they are going to have to air it out a little more than someone facing a second-and-10. Teams frequently run on second-and-10 and next thing you know it’s third-and-7. What happened to the Chippewas? Kent State threw on first down and gained eight yards. Suddenly it’s second-and-7, which is a better scenario than the second-and-10 the Chippewas declined. I think teams would be better served to decline more penalties on defense to limit the downs than increase the yardage to get the first down — certainly with five-yard penalties.
Eliminate replay booths: I’ve never liked replay to ‘correct’ calls. We still see so many plays determined by human observation in the replay booth that a large bulk of people don’t agree on the decision. Decades later it seems no two people have a clear defined idea of what is an ‘obvious’ mistake, as we see plays reversed that remain hard to tell exactly what happened.
It’s great some corrections are made and I would even agree more reviews end up with ‘the right decision,’ but because that’s the case, it makes the ones that remain controversial even more impactful. Finally, the delays just kill the game. Sometimes it seems three out of five plays end up getting reviewed. Drives me crazy.
Increase the D1 college football playoffs: This one most agree with. It should be 16 teams. Every other level of college football has a playoff system much larger than four teams and, gosh, it’s a lot of fun watching the journey. When Albion College (a D3 team) won its national championship in 1994, it was a blast experiencing the journey in the 16-team playoff through the four weeks it was played out.
The easiest solution — let all conference champions automatically qualify (10 conferences) and have six at large bids, which most likely will all go to the power five conferences. Every team in a conference starts the season with a path to make the tournament, which is fair. But the at-large teams will go to the strongest leagues which is fair as well.
What about all of those other minor bowls? They can still exist for the teams not in the tourney. I’d still watch a Central Michigan ‘meaningless’ bowl game in this scenario. Why not? If you are addicted to college football, you’ll watch these games.