7 ways to improve the sport of college football
College football is a tremendous sport that gets healthier and more lucrative every year.
But that doesn’t mean it’s perfect.
We’ve come up with seven suggestions to improve the sport. Greg Sankey, are you listening?
1. Install taller uprights
The latest memorable incident occurred during this year’s Pinstripe Bowl between Indiana and Duke. Griffin Oakes, one of the many fat Big Ten placekickers (he even tweeted about being fat last night), missed a 38-yard field goal that would’ve tied the game. The Hoosiers lost, 44-41.
Was Indiana's FG try good? Hard to tell, went over the upright and is not reviewable pic.twitter.com/UDgJuayxhN
— The Cauldron (@TheCauldron) December 27, 2015
But was the field goal really wide right? It appeared to sail directly over the upright. That’s not a reviewable judgement call, and a difficult one to make.
How about we just eliminate that issue, get some extra PVC pipe (or whatever material we need) and raise the top of the goal posts an extra 5 to 10 feet? It’s an easy fix. The NFL wised up to this one and got it done in 2014.
2. Early signing period in August
This one has been on the table for quite some time.
There are several reasons to enact it, mostly to cut down on the stress and nastiness of college football recruiting on all sides.
If, say, a quarterback commits in March of 2017, he has to wait 11 more months before he can sign. All the while, that school’s coaching staff has to fend off other potential suitors and the kid can enjoy his senior year instead of spending it hassling with coaches in his texts and DMs.
Plus, this would give coaches a better idea about how many scholarships truly are available when it comes time to make a final push in January. Perhaps that would cut down on the instances of “whoops, we don’t have a scholarship for you” or “we’re going to have to grayshirt you.”
3. NFL Combine for underclassmen + later declare date
Simply creating a harsher grading standard for the NFL Draft Advisory Committee worked to reduce the number of early entries — for one year. By 2016, the number of early entries is as wild as ever.
Shouldn’t we be putting these kids in a position to make a decision about their future that’s as informed as possible?
I say we push back the hard declare date from mid-January to the end of February. Allow draft-eligible juniors and redshirt sophomores to participate in the NFL Combine and the pre-draft process. Give them more time to return to school.
As it is, players like Alabama’s A’Shawn Robinson who participate in the College Football Playoff championship game have just days to decide whether to give up their remaining college eligibility. Often that means choosing between advice from a committee, the kid’s own college coach and his potential agent.
Let’s get them more information first to ensure they’re at least informed.
4. Laser for first-down marker
I made the mistake of accepting a LinkedIn connection request some time ago from a gentleman who touts this constantly. Getting a monthly notification from him has gotten annoying, and I should remember to disconnect our accounts.
But he does make a salient point. It’s 2016. The technology exists. We have a yellow line on our TV screens to illustrate the theoretical first-down distance.
Yet we rely on two generally unathletic people to trot out two sticks with a 10-yard chain to make a determination? Two people we expect to run in a perfectly straight line perpendicular to the sideline? Please. This needs to happen.
5. Match the NFL rules
College football games are longer than NFL games in many instances because we stop the clock to move the chains every time a team gets a first down.
There are other things that can be a bit confusing for fans of both sports as well as players transitioning to the NFL. Let’s go ahead and eliminate these discrepancies by adapting NFL rules in these areas:
- No stopped clock on first downs.
- A receiver must get both feet inbounds to complete a catch.
- A player who dives to make a catch or slips while running should not be “down” until contacted by a defensive player.
6. Allow touchdown celebrations
Players are allowed to dab and “run off on da plug twice” after touchdowns without recourse. The line for “unsportsmanlike” has been blurred, and what would’ve been a sure penalty in the early 1990s doesn’t cause us to bat an eye.
This seems like a stodgy rule that would be approved by all the old baseball Hall of Fame voters. Isn’t that part of the reason football is so popular? Because it isn’t beholden to outdated traditions?
Let these kids dance when they score touchdowns. As long as they aren’t taunting the other team directly, it’s time to let go of the old notions of “bad sportsmanship” as far as celebrations are concerned.
7. Shorten the play clock
It helped the NBA and college basketball. College offenses are getting faster and faster. Why not lop 5 seconds off the play clock and make it 35 seconds instead of 40, like the XFL once did?
Arkansas may not appreciate this proposal. But half the SEC averaged fewer than 26 seconds between snaps in 2015. Why not speed up the action just a tad?