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Post How long does it take to play a 60-minute football game?

Monday July 31, 2006

The length of college football games isn’t a problem. If you attend a game at a smaller school that isn’t broadcast on television, you’ll find that the game moves right along and is done in three hours or so. But televised games, particularly on a certain network, routinely last four hours and longer. Each change of possession is cause for a full-length timeout. There is nothing better nor more exciting than the score-commercial-kickoff-commercial-three and out-commercial sequence. Great for the guy watching at home with the small bladder, not so great for everyone else. I have no problem against football games that last all afternoon – I’m there; I’m a captive audience. Play all day, go 17 overtimes. I do mind when much of my time in the stadium is waiting for the guy on the sideline dressed in all white to signal the end of another TV timeout.

Instead of dealing with the root cause of lengthy games, the NCAA chose to address the "problem" by altering the nature of the game. Change of possession will likely still result in minutes of television commercials, but the clock starts as soon as that commercial is over and the ref blows the whistle to start the play clock.

Back during the World Cup, a lot of people noticed how nice and quick the broadcasts were without commercials. A full 90-minute game was over in about two hours or so (three hours tops if the game went to penalty kicks). I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to suggest that continuous action was a good way to move college football games along. Soccer is broadcast worldwide, presumably at a profit for the broadcast outlets. I’ve seen more regional soccer coverage, and the ads are a bit more intrusive on the screen, but it’s still tolerable. If they can figure out a way to stay out of the way of the game’s flow, broadcasts of college football should be able to do the same.

EDSBS suggests something like this today, in their own way of course. Their conclusion is exactly correct: "The rules don’t innovate; if anything, they point to a failure of imagination on the part of advertisers and the rules committee." You can tell us that television revenue is the fuel of this exploding cash cow and that the NCAA and the schools that benefit from TV money will do what it takes to keep the money coming in. (Ironic given the lip service paid to amateurism, but that’s another post.) EDSBS’s bottom line still stands – the NCAA through its lack of creativity has spoken clearly and chosen to gut its own product instead of reign in advertisers.

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