NCAA looks to decrease chances of marathon OT football games

Marathon overtime games in college football, such as the one LSU and Texas A&M played last season, are already rare. The NCAA would like them to become extinct.

Concerned about increased injury risk to players, the football rules committee soon will consider tweaks to the overtime format. The goal is to make it less likely for games to go beyond two extra possessions for each team.

Among the more radical ideas set to be discussed is going to a 2-point-conversion shootout after teams have played two full OT possessions.

“The overtime process is really not broken,” said Steve Shaw, the national coordinator of football officials. “It’s just when you go beyond two (overtime possessions), it’s too much.”

The committee meets the last week of February in Indianapolis.

The current overtime format, implemented in 1996, gives each team possession at the opponent’s 25-yard line, and repeats the process until one team has outscored the other. After two possessions by each team, the offense must try a 2-point conversion instead of kicking an extra point after a touchdown.

On average, 37 Bowl Subdivision games have gone to overtime over the past four seasons. Most end after one round of possessions. Only six games per season have gone past two overtimes. LSU and Texas A&M tied a record by playing seven overtime periods in November. The Aggies won 74-72 and the teams ran 207 plays; an average regulation game features 140.

“Obviously that’s a lot of exertion on the student-athletes,” said West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons, who is in his first year as the chairman of the NCAA’s football oversight committee.

There is no support to allow games to end in ties, which were part of college football for decades.

Shaw said he has received dozens of ideas about how to tweak overtime. The most common have to do with placement of the ball. With offenses operating more efficiently than ever, moving the starting line back 10 or 15 yards would make scoring more difficult. The rules committee also will consider eliminating extra-point kicks, forcing teams to go for 2 from the very first possession.

These seem to be the most likely next steps, but other more creative measures will be considered, Shaw said.

Since the 2-point conversion often decides the longer overtime games — Texas A&M-LSU finally ended on the Aggies’ made conversion after LSU tried one and failed — why not go straight to 2-point plays from the 2-yard line after each team has had the ball twice? The first team to get a score and a stop wins.

Shaw said eliminating all placekicking in overtime also will be discussed. This could help address a less important issue: the team that wins the coin toss for overtime usually wins the game.

Typically, the team that wins the toss chooses to play defense first, so it knows what it will take to win when it has the ball.

“I don’t know if that’s going to be very popular, but we’ll talk about it,” Shaw said.

Ralph D. Russo is an Associated Press writer.

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/collegesports/article/NCAA-looks-to-decrease-chances-of-marathon-OT-13572020.php.

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