From now until preseason camp starts in August, Land-Grant Holy Land will be writing articles around a different theme every week. This week is all about what we would do if we were in charge of our favorite position group, team, conference, or sport. You can catch up on all of the Theme Week content here and all of our ”If I Was in Charge” articles here
It’s easy to play “armchair quarterback” or second-guess decisions that are made after the fact. There are so many fans out there that they could coach Ohio State and the Buckeyes would be even better than they already are. Over the last few years there have been even more people out there that think they could run the Big Ten or college football. While there are some decisions made by Kevin Warren that were questionable and deserving to be mocked, we can’t forget that he is responsible for bringing USC and UCLA to the conference.
Since it’s the offseason and there isn’t much to cover, we figured it’d be a fun exercise to pretend we were in power. What would you change if you were running college football? It could be on the field rules, how the playoff is run, NIL regulation, recruiting, or pretty much anything beyond those options. There is no issue too small, or too big to be tackled if you were in charge!
Today’s question: What is one change you’d make if you were in charge of college football?
We’d love to hear your choices. Either respond to us on Twitter at @Landgrant33 or leave your choice in the comments.
Brett’s answer: Elimination of neutral site non-conference games
How disappointing is it when there is a great non-conference matchup announced only to find out it is being played at a neutral site NFL stadium? I completely understand why we are seeing more and more of these games, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck. Of course, the reason for this practice becoming more common is money. Like The Joker said in The Dark Knight, “If you’re good at something, never do it for free.”.
Whether it be college football or the NFL, football is king in this country. Just look at how many people watch and attend games during the season. Even when the season is over, fans are constantly talking and thinking about football. Ohio State just had over 70,000 people at their spring game, which is a few notches below preseason NFL football when it comes to the on-the-field product. During the regular season, it is pretty rare that the Buckeyes don’t put at least 100,000 fans in the seats for games.
Back in 2018, Ohio State was originally scheduled to play TCU in Fort Worth. The game was eventually moved to AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys. The setting wasn’t exactly new for Ohio State, who not only won the first College Football Playoff Championship Game at the stadium a few years before, but they also closed out the 2017 season with a win over USC in the Cotton Bowl. While I understand the move to a much bigger stadium for ticket purposes, it would have been neat to see the Buckeyes play at the home stadium of the Horned Frogs. It certainly would have been an interesting trip for those fans that want to visit as many new venues as possible.
This year there are a couple of non-conference games that are puzzling to me. Virginia is playing Tennessee in Nashville, and LSU is playing Florida State in Orlando. You can’t tell me that soulless stadiums in Nashville and Orlando are better options than playing these games in Knoxville and Tallahassee. These stadiums are 3-4 hours away from where Tennessee and Florida State play. Why are you going to do that to your fans?
Maybe the trend of neutral site non-conference games are going to decrease with the expansion of the playoff. I doubt it, though. Luckily Ohio State hasn’t dabbled much in playing “home” games outside of Columbus. I’m not saying it won’t happen in the future, since it feels like if Gene Smith could, he’d have any playoff games the Buckeyes host moved to Indianapolis so the elements don’t affect the game. Fans might be fine with driving to Indy for the Big Ten Championship Game, but I’d imagine there’d be a riot if a playoff game is moved from Columbus.
In the end, just play non-conference games on campus, since it is such a better atmosphere. There might not be as many tickets sold in some instances, but the fans will be a lot happier with not having to jump through hoops to watch a game that should be at their team’s home stadium.
Matt’s answer: Cut it out with all of the back-to-back commercials
If you are like me, there is nothing as exciting as a high-stakes college football game that comes down to the wire. Imagine, with less than a minute left in regulation of a tied game, on first down coming out of a post-kickoff timeout, a wide receiver breaks an arm tackle deep in his own territory and then he races up the field, avoiding defenders — breaking some ankles in the process — before ultimately getting brought down just outside the red zone. Gassed from the pursuit, the defense calls a timeout, so the broadcast goes to a commercial break.
When the game is back on, the offense is already lined up and the quarterback throws a fade to the endzone, but it sails out of bounds with 38 seconds remaining. So, the offense calls a timeout in order to regroup from an unusual defensive look they got on the previous play, so the broadcast goes to a commercial break. What excitement!
Then, you’re back for second down and the offense completes a swing pass to the outside for a handful of yards, but as the receiver is trying to get out of bounds, a linebacker hits him in the helmet and a flag is thrown; targeting. So, there is, by rule, a review; so the broadcast goes to a commercial break. Don’t you just love the pageantry of this glorious game?
When the broadcast returns, the referees determine that there was no foul for targeting, so it is 3rd and 2 with 00:29 on the clock. The offensive play-caller decides to get creative and pulls a delayed handoff to the running back out of his bag of tricks, but even you and I know that was a horrible call given the defense’s propensity for sending the house in high-pressure situations, so it goes for a loss of two.
That means that it is now 4th and 4 from the 16 yard-line with 22 seconds remaining and, in hopes of maintaining as much time on the clock as possible, the defense calls timeout... so the broadcast goes to a commercial break. Can you even stand all of the twists and turns?
Once we arrive back at the game, we get a field goal, but the broadcast throws us for a loop by NOT going to a commercial break. Therefore, we almost immediately get the kickoff... which sails out of the back of the endzone, so the broadcast goes to a commercial break. At that point, you realize that you know more about the deals at this month’s Toyotathon than you do about what’s actually happening in this game.
But, when action resumes, you are grateful, because you realize that neither team has any timeouts remaining; so it is nothing but uninterrupted football until we have a winner. So, with 20 seconds remaining and 40 yards to go until the outer-most limits of the kicker’s field goal range, you strap in for what should prove to be an unbelievable finish that will have implications felt across the entire college football season.
Then, on first down, the quarterback drops back to pass, looking to hit his No. 1 receiver on an out-route to the sideline, but before he can come out of his break, the blindside edge rusher gets to the quarterback, sacking him. With less than 10 seconds left, the offense races back to the line of scrimmage. The QB is yelling he is going to clock the ball, but he doesn’t realize that by the time he snaps it, there is only 1 second left, so when the ball eventually falls harmlessly to the ground, ending the play, the clock has expired and the game is over.
What an unbelievably thrilling and satisfying ending!?!?! Seeing the way that the offense limped lifelessly in the opposite direction of a historic finish was so worth the final 40 seconds of gameplay taking 20 minutes of real-time. Man, do I love this game and the craven capitalistic impulses of all of its media rights holders who force the NCAA to make significant rule changes in order to speed up games, rather than just addressing the fact that the pace of play isn’t the problem, it’s the pace between plays that make the games interminably long.