Mailbag: You quit asking, we keep answering

Buckeye CommentarySenior Analyst IMarch 24, 2010

Can the Big Ten Conference unilaterally change its rules? Could the league install a different overtime system for its league games?

I don’t know but my off the cuff answer? Nope.

There is some general confusion as to the NCAA’s reach and power. You may recall that the Big Ten implemented instant replay before any other conference but I am not so sure that was not an NCAA-sanctioned experiment. (The Big East’s 6-foul experiment was NCAA-sanctioned.) While the NCAA is the gatekeeper for many rules and standards for FBS football - academic eligibility, scholarships limits, player benefits, and practice time restrictions - there are plenty of other items that the NCAA has no control over - conference membership and revenue sharing, player discipline, scheduling.

Oh yeah, the NCAA does not even handout an official National Championship for FBS.

Where is the line drawn? I am not sure, but I sincerely doubt the Big Ten could change or eliminate rules like roughing the passer (or punter) or any other rule specifically designed for safety.  If anyone knows, feel free to enlighten me.

While we are on the subject, here are some rules that I would like to see altered that will not alter the core of the game.

Down by contact: I cannot figure out why this rule has not been changed.  Kneel down to make a reception?  Stop right there.  Slip on wet astro-space-turfness without a defender nearby.  Too effing bad.  Make a diving catch (or interception)?  You can’t advance it.  I have a hard time thinking of any valid arguments for keeping this rule.  The NFL’s rule is better.  The League is hardly perfect, but there is no reason not to cherry pick the best parts.

Point after: In college football the PAT is attempted from the three-yard-line. In the NFL it’s the two-yard-line.  That extra yard does not make much difference on PAT attempts, but it does limit the play selection rather dramatically.  I have read that the 2-point conversion success rate is approximately 40-percent in both college and pro (admittedly lacking source at the moment), but I think the extra yard may make a big difference, especially for running dominant teams.

Facemask: Bring back the incidental facemask penalty. I realize the rationale for ending the incidental variation was to signal that any facemask is dangerous.  In reality officials call a penalty any time that a hand hits a facemask and, currently, that equals a 15-yard penalty.  I don’t believe that the 5-yard incidental version made players more likely to commit the penalty, so why was it eliminated.  Adding a little subjectivity to this penalty was positive and should be revived.

Overtime: This is truly a topic for an entire post but I will keep this brief.  Start with the NFL’s new model for overtime except guarantee that each team gets a possession.  If the game is still tied after that, you play sudden death.  The positives are that each team gets an opportunity in overtime and the process continues to resemble the game that had been played for the previous 60 minutes (special teams included).  The rules, strategy, and integrity of the game will essentially remain the same.  And, this adjustment is still mindful of the desire to drive the game towards conclusion.

There are some negatives to this approach, however.  There is a clear advantage for the kicking team because of the field position battle and the ability to make all four downs meaningful knowing they can end the game without their opponent getting another chance.  Also, defensive struggles could last longer than desired.  Finally, as Doug Gottlieb and other blogs have pointed out, many exciting games are going to end on an incomplete pass, which is one of the most boring possible outcomes.

I saw that Mississippi is considering a new mascot. I realize their motivations may be different and somewhat unique, but I also think Brutus could use a bit of a makeover. When was the last time he was modified?

If Ohio State’s options are sticking with the status quo or having Admiral Ackbar as a mascot, I think they should stay right where they are.  Of course, they could go for a retro look.