I have pointed out here in the past that college football is not nearly as big a deal here in the Northeast US as it is in other parts of the country. A recent report in the New York Business Journal underscores the situation here.
Maryland and Rutgers – the two schools most recently added to the Big 10 in order for the conference to have a footprint in the heavily populated megalopolis of the Northeast US – will play each other in football this year. That game will take place on 4 November and it will be in Yankee Stadium in NYC. Yankee Stadium will seat 54,000 people and if you have tuned in to see any Rutgers’ football games on TV recently, you can convince yourself easily from the crowd shots that they tend not to draw that many fans to the stadium.
Not to worry, someone in the “marketing division” involved with this game came up with a way to goose attendance.
“The two schools announced the ‘Big Ten Battle in the Bronx’ on Tuesday, hosted by Rutgers University. That day [November 4], the Terps and Scarlett Knights will face off in a wrestling match, the first to be held in the 54,000-seat stadium, followed by a football game later that afternoon.”
Think about this for a moment.
Most college wrestling matches take place indoors with a few hundred fans – or possible a couple thousand fans – in attendance. The seats are close to the action.
Imagine for a moment watching a college wrestling match in a baseball stadium – any baseball stadium. Now that you have that picture in your head does it surprise you that this will be “the first to be held in the 54,000 seat stadium?”
One more point … It might be cold outdoors in the morning in NYC in early November. Think for a moment how Yankee fans might be dressed if there were a baseball game there on the evening of 3 November. College wrestlers normally do not wear parkas while limbering up or while competing.
I am not someone who is averse to change; I spent a major portion of my career in jobs that required and rewarded “thinking outside the box”. When one does that over a period of time, one comes to realize that every new idea is not necessarily a good idea. We had a saying in the office that thinking outside the box was something to be encouraged – – unless of course you were talking to your cat.
Since I mentioned the college football game between Maryland and Rutgers above, let me segue here into another issue that involves college football. The games are getting longer and longer – – and longer still. I read a report that the Florida State/Ole Miss game from Week 1 took 4 hours and 4 minutes to play. [Aside: That datum comes from a report; I did not time he game.] That is too long; remember the running clock for the game is only 1 hour and at least some of that time involves no action as the clock runs while players line up and figure out what to do on the next snap.
Also, consider that this negative reaction to the length of some college football games comes from someone who really likes college football. I pay a lot more attention to college football than the vast majority of sports fans who live in the Northeast US and I think the games should not take 4 hours to play.
I believe the major culprit in stretching out the game times is the college rule that the clock will stop on every first down until the ball is set and the chains are set and the officials signal the ball to be alive again. Consider that Florida State/Ole Miss game from above. In that game, there were 53 first downs made by the two teams. That probably stretched the game out by 10 minutes as the clock was stopped for everything to happen prior to the next snap.
Wondering if that game was an anomaly, I checked a few games from that same week between competitive teams:
Notre Dame/Texas had 48 first downs
Oklahoma/Houston had 42 first downs
UCLA/Texas A&M had 51 first downs
That is not an exhaustive survey by any stretch of the imagination but I think it does indicate that one could shorten some college games a bit if the NFL rule on clock running applied to the college game.
There are other factors to consider here and let me point out one of them that cannot be cured by any sort of rule change.
College football is a higher scoring sport than NFL football.
There are plenty of reasons for that and the fact that it is higher scoring is part of its appeal. Every time there is a TD or a field goal, the game stops for a series of TV commercials. That happens more frequently in a college game than in a pro game and I do not think one should try to tinker with that aspect of college football. However, one could consider doing one or both of these things:
1. Why is halftime 20 minutes long? It was not always that long. Does it really have to be that long?
2. Put a hard and fast time limit on the review of plays by the folks doing the reviewing. Honestly, some of them seem to take 4 or 5 minutes all by themselves.
These are merely constructive suggestions because I do enjoy watching college football…
Finally, since everything today related somehow to college football, let me close with a comment from Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot right after Wisconsin beat LSU to start this college football season:
“Nonsense ahead: With Louisiana State’s loss to Wisconsin, Tigers coach Les Miles is on the hot seat one game into the season. If worse comes to worse, Miles can always find a cooler coaching seat in Canada, but first, he’d have to change his name to Fewer Kilometers.”
But don’t get me wrong I love sports………