I was watching the Minnesota Gophers play the Michigan Wolverines in the Big 10 tournament on Friday night and somehow the end of the game made me think about the NFL.
It was one of those down-to-the-wire college basketball games that makes the sport so exciting, or at least should make the sport so exciting. Unfortunately, whenever the intensity got ratcheted up to 10 and you were getting to the edge of your seat, a timeout would be called. Or the refs would need five minutes to review a play. Then another timeout. Then another review. And so on, and so on…
The end of what should have been a memorable game was ruined by meddling coaches and refs who relied too heavily on the crutch of instant replay.
So what does this have to do with the NFL? I guarantee you if a similar problem existed in the NFL, it would do something to correct it. The NFL isn’t afraid to innovate, even if it means upsetting some people in the process.
If I was in charge of college basketball, I would ban timeouts in the final two minutes. Actually, I would still allow timeouts, but only to stop the clock. Once a timeout is called, the clock would stop, the team that called the timeout would get the ball out of bounds, and play would resume. There would be no long break as the players wandered over to the bench, listened to their coach draw up another play, then wandered back onto the court.
This would be a fairly major change to college basketball, one that would causes coaches and longtime fans resistant to change to start whining. Loudly.
They would claim the new rule alters the way the game is played. I would say, damn right it does. It makes the game better.
They would claim coaches need those timeouts to set up crunch-time plays. I would say that is what practice is for and admonish the coaches for not properly teaching their players how to function in high-pressure situations without someone holding their hand.
They would say the new rule is only to placate casual fans. I would say all fans will appreciate a more exciting game, except maybe for you and your fuddy-duddy friends.