While the NFL may draw flack for its overtime games that can end in ties, college football sees some games stretch on for a drastically long time. In a sport that’s already dangerous and taxing, this can get risky for players and repetitive for fans. Because of this, the SEC is putting new rules in place to prevent more marathon games like this.
Why do we need new overtime rules?
Although changes like this have been discussed for years, a catalyst for change was last season’s seven-overtime game between Texas A&M and LSU. With seconds left, the Tigers were poised to win and even dumped Gatorade on their coach’s head. But a sack that was ruled a fumble was overturned and deemed a down. This gave Texas one more chance.
With the clock ticking, A&M quarterback Kellen Mond threw a 19-yard touchdown to force overtime. The teams spent the next seven overtimes exchanging leads and ties until Mond found receiver Kendrick Rogers for a game-winning touchdown. The final count was 74-72 — a score we’re more likely to see in a basketball game.
The old rules were meant to allow more scoring, but leave the door open for games like this:
- The periods each consisted of one possession for each team, decided by a coin toss.
- The possessions started at the team’s 25-yard line.
- Ties lead to another overtime period.
- Possession flips at the end of each overtime, meaning the team who had it first the last period has it second during the second period.
- Starting in the third period, teams must go for two after touchdowns.
The new rules
Multi-overtime games may be entertaining, but they can be dangerous for players. With both pro and college sports cracking down on safety, having players compete for five hours is antithetical. The new rules may not fully prevent this, but they help make this less likely to occur.
The new rules force teams to take more chances than they otherwise may risk. To enforce this, the SEC is adding mandatory steps to multi-overtime games:
- The teams will employ a mandatory two-point try at the beginning of the fifth overtime.
- There will be a mandatory two-minute break at the end of the second and fourth overtimes.
This will help push things along if they go too far, and it allows teams proper rest.
Will the new overtime rules work?
Unless the NCAA wants to allow ties, they cannot do much besides creates precautionary measures. Ties are not foreign to football. In fact, the NFL still allows them. However, there is a hesitancy to allow ties, as they can make an entire game feel like a wash.
There may not be a perfect fix for marathon games. As rare as ones like this are, preventing them is in the best interest of teams and players. With ties out of the picture, and sudden death scenarios being unfair to the team who starts the overtime period on defense, this move by the SEC may get the ball rolling on actual change. The seven-overtime thriller was fun for fans and players, but too many games like that can be bad for the players, teams, advertisers, and fans.