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Post PTI misses (or ignores) the point on long games

Thursday August 10, 2006

I happened to catch yesterday’s PTI, and the topic of the college football rules changes came up. I shouldn’t be so naive as to expect an ESPN show to point the finger back at the networks, but they could have at least acknowledged television’s role in excessively long football games. Of course they didn’t head in that direction. They focused instead on why all of the complaining coaches should get over it. It’s not like they have time to get more than an inch deep on an issue given that show’s format, but that makes it that much more important to get to the root of the issue, and they didn’t in this case.

Wilbon even mentioned the long Rose Bowl broadcast but failed to connect the dots and see the obvious reason why the Rose Bowl (and any BCS bowl) lasts so long. As pointed out clear as can be in this analysis by Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic, there were 161 plays in the BCS title game and 96 commercials.

Bickley’s analysis had one surprising stat – the SEC has the shortest games at 3:15 on average. With the interminable CBS broadcasts, I expected that number to be a bit higher. That might mean that the SEC is more of a run-based conference with fewer changes of possession (and consequently fewer chances for commercials). It might not mean anything since we’re talking no more than thirteen minutes’ difference among the conferences.

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