Overtime In Football: Why Can't Either League Get It Right?

Aren DowCorrespondent ISeptember 2, 2008

As I sat and watched the fantastic game between UCLA and Tennessee unfold Monday night, I couldn't help but groan when regulation play came to a close. The teams were tied, and it was headed into overtime.

Collegiate overtime is one of the most ridiculous arrangements in sports today. As the NCAA feeds the college football fan's addiction to points, points, and more points with their form of overtime, it seriously hinders the better team. It also ruins the basics of the game.

Starting the ball at the 20-yard line negates most defense play. A team is almost guaranteed points without even moving the ball, as UCLA proved Monday night. Are you going to tell me UCLA should even have the chance at a field goal after advancing the line of scrimmage zero yards?

While UCLA's defense proved to be just as stout as Tennessee's, it really didn't make a difference as Daniel Lincoln's kick was just plain awful. The only way to really make a difference on the defensive side is to force a turnover, a task rather difficult considering the circumstances.

When three and out doesn't mean you have succeeded, it is obviously a serious flaw needs to be corrected.

Even worse, there isn't a clock in college football overtime. How exciting was it to watch the rookie Craft lead UCLA to a touchdown in the two minute drill in regulation?

To see Tennessee use less than half a minute to set up and score a game-tying field goal? All that anticipation is gone in time-less overtime.

How about in baseball? When they go into extra innings, should they move the game onto a softball field? More runs, more excitement right?

The NFL setup is only slightly better. It is nice to see teams actually have to earn yardage to score, but once that happens you're done! There is zero shot for redemption. As a Green Bay Packer fan, I have seen overtime provide extreme highs and lows within the past year.

Without a doubt, seeing Brett Favre connect to Greg Jennings for 82 yards in overtime against the Broncos will be a favorite memory of mine for a long time. But I can imagine how the other side feels.

One corner back gets beat and we're done? We held these guys to less than two touchdowns in regulation, and now our offense doesn't get a chance to redeem the team?

Still, touchdowns are seldom seen in NFL overtime. Once teams hit that threshold of a forty yard kick, the game becomes ultra-conservative and ultra-boring. Just pound the ball and get a few yards. Then set up the kick, but wait! The opponents just called a timeout to "ice" your kicker. Wait some more.

Possibly one of the most anti-climatic finishes you can witness.

Take for instance, the NFC Championship between the Giants and the Packers last year. Favre throws the interception on the second play of overtime. Packer fans then just writhe in agony and wait for the next two minutes as we all know the inevitable.

I understand it is sudden death; you aren't allowed any mistakes. Yet with no shots at redemption, many games end up with rather unexciting finishes. Kickers decide too many outcomes with a short yardage field goal.

What gets me is that there is such an easy solution to all of this mess. Simply play another quarter, or a slightly shortened period. The NBA employs it, and it works well.

They even get, at times, their dramatic game winning shot all over again. Baseball adheres to the same rules they have during regular play, why does football change theirs?

There is not a more balanced and fair way to decide the game. It provides an equal opportunity for each side of the ball to see the field, and to make an impact. Unforgettable finishes would not be lost either.

It's about time football as a whole makes the change.