As I See It

This is the first of a series of columns by Jim Donovan, Executive Director of the ConAgra Foods Hawaii Bowl, on his view of sports. This week, Donovan talks about overtime in college football.

There are few things more exciting than a college football game played right down to the last second.  We're talking overtime, baby!


Let's see… The crowd's going nuts.  The television ratings are rising.  The excitement in the air is palatable.  It's down to this – each team gets the ball at the 25-yard line going in.  Each team has the chance to score.  Each team gets only one timeout in all of overtime, further increasing the pressure and finality of it all.


The only thing is it can take as many as six overtime periods to determine a winner.  That means maybe another 4-12 plays per overtime – or up to another 24-72 plays per starter.  It's conceivable that a player could be out on the field for overtime up to the equivalent of half a regular game, or more.


Tennessee played Arkansas to a six-overtime, 41-38, victory early in October in the second longest game ever.  Arkansas knows what it's like to be in that situation – they defeated Mississippi on November 3, 2001 in a seven-overtime classic, 58-56.


While I can appreciate Vince Lombardi's famous quote, "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing," there must be a better way to determine a winner.


Now don't get me wrong, college football overtime is exciting.  I just think it needs to be modified for the safety of the players. 


As the rules stand right now, each team can kick extra points until the third overtime session, after that it's only two-point conversions after a touchdown.  One simple change would be no kicking extra points in overtime – only two-point conversions after touchdowns from the get-go.


Another well-known approach would be to use the NFL's model of one 15-minute overtime period.  If you can't settle it in that time period, call it a tie.


Maybe there's even some other way that is safer for the players.  But let's find one and implement it sooner than later.


So far there's been no serious injury that I know of that has been caused by the fatigue of overtime.  Let's admit overtime needs to be reeled in before we can no longer make that statement.  Do it for the player's sake, please. 


Jim Donovan is the Executive Director of the ConAgra Foods Hawaii Bowl and will be writing regular columns on various issues for Rainbow Sports Network.


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