Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Overtime Alternative

Before I start... a warning.  Your first reaction to this suggestion will probably not be a good one.  Let me suggest you chew on it a little before rejecting it outright.  Here goes...

If the clock runs out in regulation with the score tied, turn the clock off, continue playing (i.e., no coin toss and kickoff), and play to sudden death (first to score wins).  There, I told you that you wouldn't like it.  Now let's kick it around a bit.

Situation A:  One minute left.  Team A has the ball, is trailing by 3 points, and chooses to play for a tie.  If they tie the game (in regulation), their opponent will NOT have to work against the clock -- they can take as long as they like to try to make the go-ahead score.  Once the clock runs out, first to score wins.

Situation B:  One minute left.  Team A has the ball, is trailing by 3 points, and chooses to play for the win.  If they take the lead (in regulation), their opponent must tie or go ahead before the clock runs out.

What are the advantages?  First of all, by removing the coin toss to start overtime, you remove a random and arguably unfair element of the game.  In regulation, each team got to receive once -- fair enough.  Winning the coin toss gives such an advantage, why not just use the coin toss alone to decide the winner?  Second, you have new elements of strategy to consider (see above).  Third, in a tie, the team with the ball at the end of regulation gets to keep it -- why not reward them for having possession at that point?

Feedback is welcome, but be sure to mull it over a bit first.


mmortal03 said...

This is an excellent suggestion! I I wonder if it has even been considered by the NFL. It would get rid of situations where a team rightfully gains what becomes fruitless yardage at the end, as well as getting rid of silly chance plays like Hail Marys when the game is tied at the end. Consistent football drives are what should be rewarded, not Hail Mary chance plays that no team would have risked at other times in regulation. Furthermore, as you have mentioned, the coin toss is unnecessary, because the determination of whomever has the ball at the end of regulation in this situation is already essentially a built-in "coin toss". Also, however far they have gained on the field at that point should not be something that is taken away from them. Teams build momentum at the end of a game, and that shouldn't be taken away from them by a coin toss not going their way, or by the defense of the team they are playing getting a rest that they wouldn't have had if it was a drive during regulation.

Benjamin said...

Eliminating the coin toss is the definite advantage in this suggestion. It simplifies everything.

kasulisjoecarol@msn.com said...

On Sat, Oct 10, 2009 at 10:06 PM, Kenneth Massey wrote:

Great idea. I'd go for it.

Just one issue - what to do in the unlikely case of a 0-0 tie? Let that one continue in the Tagliabeau/Madden fashion ?

On Sat, Oct 10, 2009 at 9:56 PM, joecarol kasulis wrote:

Kenneth, this is so simple & fair. Please reply with your thoughts. I read your 2 solutions. They are too complicated and not part of a football game. The only other fair solution is the one originally proposed by the previous Commissoner, Paul Tagliabeau, & OK'd by John Madden. Just keep playing from where you left off at the end of regulation. The only problem with that is it would tend to lengthen the number of plays per game while my solution would lessen the number of plays. Teams would try to win in regulation and not play for the tie like they do now.

Overtime Solution
The team that scored last to tie the game in regulation should have to defer the choice instead of flipping a coin. This means they will usually kick-off to start the overtime. Knowing ahead of time will change the strategy in regulation. In the Jets-Patriots overtime game, the Pats would have probably have tried a 2-point conversion after they scored in the last minute of the regulation knowing they would have to kick-off in the overtime. No tie. No overtime needed.

Situation #2: Team that scored last has ball on opponents 38 yard line; 4th Down & 6 yards to go; One minute and 30 seconds left in regulation; Tie score. Do they punt, attempt to get a 1st Down, or attempt a 55 yard Field Goal? Knowing how the overtime will start will lessen the chance of having an overtime.

When a team kicks a Field Goal at the end of Regulation to tie the game. It should be the other teams chance to have the ball. Often the same team wins the coin flip and marches down the the field to kick the winning Field Goal and the other team never got a chance to have the ball. It's not fair.

Yours in sports,
Joe Kasulis

Jim Ashburn said...

I appreciate the feedback.

Ken, with regard to your concerns about a never-ending game, keep in mind that there is nothing to prevent a never-ending overtime in the current format either (witness 2001 Arkansas, Ole Miss). Consider also that the team driving at the end of regulation may be well into their drive by the time regulation ends. Thus, letting them play on could very well end the game in seconds -- without stopping for a coin toss and playing a series with each team. And, as already mentioned, the "turn the clock off" approach introduces new strategy elements that decrease the chances of overtime in the first place.

As far as two hopelessly defense-oriented teams playing into overtime after a scoreless regulation, I suppose any fans who could tolerate 60 minutes of scoreless football could handle another 30 minutes or so. Seriously, though, such games are increasingly rare in modern football, especially at the FBS level. I suppose, though, like the current overtime rules which implement a mandatory two-point conversion attempt, some kind of other rule alteration could be envisioned to kick in at some point to put the fans out of their misery.