Forgive Texas Tech coach Mike Leach if he would like to spend his entire Saturday calling plays from the sideline.
Understand that Leach is apart from growing sentiment in college football that games are stretching too long. If there is any doubt, just watch a complete game or two.
Because of more passing, more scores, longer halftime breaks, more commercials and replay stoppages, some college football games are stretching more than four hours. And Leach can’t get enough.
“I’ve heard people squawking about it,” Leach said. “But I have virtually no concern how long games are. If they were an hour longer, that would suit me just fine.”
But other coaches aren’t as enlightened as Leach ” or must have dinner plans after their games.
Big Ten and national coordinator of officials David Parry said he is hearing more complaints about how much longer college football games are.
“I hear it from people all across the country,” Parry said. “I was talking with (Indiana coach) Terry Hoeppner the other day. He told me that one game lasted so long that one of his players started the game as a freshman and was a sophomore by the time it ended.”
While Hoeppner’s claim was exaggerated, the modern game does lend itself to more offense. And as offenses have improved, more plays have been crammed into a typical 60-minute game.
The college game stretches longer than the NFL because the clock stops after a team has made a first down. The clock remains stopped until the ball is spotted and the next play begins.
College football has never taken the drastic steps taken by the NFL, which in recent years has passed rules to compress its typical game into about three hours.
In the NFL, the clock continues to run on first downs if a ball carrier is tackled inbounds. The clock also restarts on a kickoff return, a player going out of bounds on a play from scrimmage and after declined penalties, except in the final two minutes of the first half and the last five minutes of the second half.
Those changes allow a college game to average about 165 plays from scrimmage ” about 14 more than in an NFL game.
Leach blasts the NFL for using a “fast clock” because of the lack of natural stoppages.
“I always thought it was incredibly ridiculous,” Leach said. “The notion of artificially shortening games is crazy.”
Crazy, perhaps. But given that this man might be calling the game, it might also be entirely neccessary, if not humane.