Clardy's Corner - 9/28

The only activity this fall that takes longer than reading a Clardy's Corner is watching a college football game. And while some part of us enjoys stretching out a good thing, the length of these Saturday skirmishes is getting out of hand. But like any good columnist, Troy is not just here to complain. He has some answers...

It's always great to spend the day doing nothing but watching college football.  Whether you're on your couch by yourself or whether you're hanging out with friends, it's always fun to check out all the games, eat all the food, and enjoy the whole day.  It's always cool to spend all day watching a bunch of college football games.

But it's not cool when it takes all day to watch a single college football game.

Many folks have lamented how long it takes to watch a baseball game these days, what with the pitchers taking their sweet time between pitches, the batters taking their sweet time between swings, and Barry Bonds taking his sweet time coming back from rehab.

But if watching baseball seems like reading War & Peace, then watching a college football game must be like reading this week's Clardy's Corner!

No one ever complains that NFL games take too long to play.  That's because it's a rare moment when an NFL regular-season game takes longer than three hours and 15 minutes from kickoff to gun.  Most games run closer to the three-hour mark, which is the perfect length for a football game.

But a look at many college football games reveals that a three-hour contest is about as rare as the steak at a Bootleg staff dinner.  Washington's game against Idaho two weeks ago lasted just two hours and 53 minutes.  That's all!  But that's also the exception to the rule.

Last weekend's Arizona State-Oregon State game kicked off at 7:10 PM and ended at 11:04 PM.  That's almost four hours of regulation football!  Even though most of the Beaver fans were heading for the exits by 9:30 PM, that's way too long.  Subtract the 15 minute delay that occurred while a game official was attended to by paramedics and the game still ran more than three-and-a-half hours.  Still way too long.

Arizona State's game against LSU clocked in at 3:39.  A great game, to be sure, but still too long.  Washington-Notre Dame ran three hours, 22 minutes.  Better, but still a little too long.  UCLA-Oklahoma lasted three hours and 34 minutes, and the first half took 1:48 to play!  Way.  Too.  Long.

I set my DVD recorder to tape the Oregon-Houston game a few weeks ago, and I stupidly allotted just three hours of recording time.  Good thing the game had been decided by the time the disc filled up, because that contest took three hours and 55 minutes to play.  3:55!  There is no reason that any football game decided in regulation time should take virtually four hours.

Trust me, I like watching college football as much as the next person.  But unless Godfather Part II is on, I'm not prepared to watch the same thing for four hours.  I don't have that kind of time.  You probably don't either, and I know the TV networks and advertisers don't.  I would hate to be a certain car rental company that paid big bucks to sponsor a postgame show that is coming up after the game, time permitting… and that same postgame show is almost never seen because, well, time almost never permits.

Fortunately, this little problem has its solutions.  Here are two I can think of right off the top of my head:

Shorter halftimes.  I'm stealing this idea from my buddy Dave.  Why do college halftimes last twenty minutes?  That seems a bit long to me.  Shorten halftimes to 12 minutes.  15 at the most.  Do the kids need that much time to recoup?  Do the coaches need that much time to adjust?  I don't think so.  There's no reason why college halftimes can't be cut down to 12 or 15 minutes.  Unless the Grambling or Southern bands are in town.

Fewer clock stoppages.  In college games right now, the clock stops after all first downs and all incompletions.  This can really stretch out a game, especially if you're watching a pass-happy team.  Take Texas Tech for example.  They've played three games this year, and the lengths of those games were 3:37, 3:40, and 3:20.  All of those are too long.

I would love to see the NCAA institute a running clock (except on out-of-bounds plays) up until the five-minute mark of each half.  After that, the clock would stop after incompletions and first downs through the end of each half.  That's a bit more workable than having a team throw three incompletions to start a game and take only 31 seconds off the clock.

Fewer commercial breaks?  Sorry.  Can't help there.  I'm halfway surprised the NCAA hasn't put in Two Minute Warnings yet so they can shoehorn a few more ads into each game.  Then again, maybe I shouldn't have just given them the idea.  Forget I said anything about that…

But those two modifications would go a long way towards shortening games and fitting them into workable time slots.

While I'm at it, here are a couple of other modifications I'd like to see in football, just for the heck of it:

If a kicker kicks the ball through the uprights during a kickoff, the receiving team still gets the ball on a touchback, but the kicking team shall be awarded one point.  Might make kickoffs a bit more interesting, no?

If NFL defensive pass interference penalties are generally assessed from the spot of the foul, why aren't offensive pass interference penalties enforced the same way?  Say a receiver commits interference 40 yards downfield.  The offense should be penalized those 40 yards, just like the defense would be if the defensive back had committed interference 40 yards downfield.  Third down and 50, anyone?

This would be more for the NFL, but the quarterback should be allowed to spike the ball and stop the clock only once per drive.  None of this pass, spike, pass, spike, pass, spike stuff.  Only one intentional incompletion per drive, please.  That would put a little more strategy into the hurry-up drill, and it would also reward teams that are wise with their timeouts.

And, the last modification I'd like to see in football: any touchdown scored against U$C counts for twelve points instead of six.  Hey, the rest of us are going to need all the help we can get against those guys!

Are long college football games too much of a good thing?  Maybe.  But sometimes, no matter how you slice it, too much of a good thing is just too much.  And in a season when it seems that many college football games are plodding past the three-hour mark just seconds into the fourth quarter, it's too much.


RANDOM PAC-10 THOUGHTS

With the Bears trying to kick a field goal just before halftime against New Mexico State, Aggies head coach Hal Mumme called three straight timeouts in an attempt to ice cal kicker Tom Schneider.  Eventually, Schneider pushed his kick wide left.  To hear the TV announcers describe it, they had just witnessed one of the greatest coaching moves of all time.  Never mind that the "brilliant" move meant the Aggies would still be down by 17 at the half.  Looking for the genius in that move…

Come to think of it, no team should be allowed to call three straight timeouts in the first place!  Add that rule to my list of modifications that need to be made to the game…

If I were Jeff Tedford, after Mumme called his third straight timeout, I would have called for a fake field goal…

J.J. Arrington, Marshawn Lynch, Justin Forsett… I mean, it's gotten to the point where the fat kid from The Goonies could give the Bears 100 yards rushing…

Heather Mitts has a lot of work to do as a sideline reporter.  A lot.  Of work.  To do.  And I'm being diplomatic here.  She is attractive, though, and in TV, that's at least 90% of the battle…

Gotta give the Huskies' offense credit: they played much better than I thought they would against Notre Dame.  Isaiah Stanback impresses me a little more every time I watch him.  Washington offensive coordinator Tim Lappano called a great first half.  But you can't fumble the ball at the Irish one-yard line, throw an interception in the endzone, and drop passes all over the place.  The Huskies left at least 21 points on the board.  Those 21 points would have won it for them.  Chalk it all up as another learning experience for the Dawgs, and last week's lesson: good teams finish…

… which brings me to U$C and Oregon.  Oregon didn't finish.  U$C finished.  Boy, did they finish.  And if Oregon had been able finish some of those early chances and come away with 21 points instead of 13, would that game have been any different?

Sure it would… it would have been a 45-21 final!

Runner-up for Quote of the Week, courtesy Michigan State quarterback Drew Stanton: "I think you can give Reggie Bush the Heisman right now, without a doubt."  I still want to see what else Vince Young does this year, but right now I agree.  Heck, I think Bush should have won last year's Heisman…

Quote of the Week, courtesy of Reggie Bush himself, who spoke on Monday about the physical price he paid for his performance in Eugene: "Everything hurts.  From neck to feet.  Everything."  My God… Reggie Bush might be human after all!

If you can give Reggie Bush the Heisman right now, I think you could at least seriously consider giving Mike Hass the Biletnikoff Award right now…

The more I see Sam Keller, the more I like him.  What stood out to me about him, even as early as last year's game against Arizona, were his good pocket sense and his ability to make all the throws.  Last week in Corvallis we saw Keller's tougher side, as he did most of his best work on just one good leg…

Not a Pac-10 thought, but… is there a more despicable TV show than MTV's latest masterpiece "My Super Sweet 16"?  I really can't do it justice by describing the show here; it just has to be seen to be believed.  And loathed…

TV programming note: another Farm Report hits you on Saturday morning at 8:00 AM on FSN Bay Area.  I think we've burned the tapes from the Davis game, so don't expect too much there…


E-MAILBAG

Scott from parts unknown is the E-Mailbag's resident Oregon Duck fan, and before last weekend's action, he offered: "I expect that Stanford will be fired up to meet Oregon on the 1st.  I am not sure what shape Oregon will be in.  If UO keeps USC from covering the spread I will call it a victory."

Sounds like it was a rough day all around for you last Saturday!

Chris from parts unknown was in a celebrating mood last week: "Thank you from an Aggie who has worn the uniform with pride.  We play hard, work hard, party hard, and above all study hard.  It's only for four years that you have this chance.  The Aggies will never forget that.  By the way, a lot of us have never experienced that kind of college football moment on that big of a stage.  It was wonderful.  Thanks for the props."

Right now this is the feel-good story of the season.  Obviously I don't like Stanford's role in it, but I have to give credit where credit is due.  Stanford didn't give away that game, Davis took it away!  Congrats to you guys and your team.  This is something that y'all will be talking about for a long, long time.  I just hope I don't run into former Aggie and current San Jose Sabercats quarterback Mark Grieb anytime soon…

In last week's Corner, I asked who would possibly come in to coach Stanford in the unlikely (and illogical) event of the head coach's firing after the Davis debacle.  KM from San Jose had an idea: "How about the coaches from UC Davis?  The similarities in programs are pretty substantial.  Davis has just as much trouble getting kids into the program that are academically qualified as Stanford, AND their kids are also required to actually attend class and take tests.  They play week in and week out against more talented, bigger, (some say) dumber athletes, and must rely on effort, scheme, and execution to win.  It seems like the challenges facing these two programs are mirror images of each other, but how they face those challenges have no parallels.  The Davis kids obviously aren't worried about being undersized our outmanned.  They just out-scheme and out-hustle their opponents, pretty much every play of the game.  If the Cardinals played like Davis, they'd be a significant team each and every year in the Pac-10.  UC Davis former coaches have taken this approach to programs like Oregon and Boise State and accomplished tremendous turnarounds.

Stanford coaches and players should watch that film OVER AND OVER AND OVER, not to break down what they did wrong; but rather to break down what Davis did right from an intensity and execution perspective.  It could be the most valuable lesson of the season."

Stanford isn't looking for new coaches right now, and in all likelihood won't be for a long time, so I won't really respond to that part of the e-mail.  That said, I totally agree with your second paragraph!  Isn't it amazing what a team that believes in itself can accomplish?

Got a thought on this column, on Stanford sports, or on anything else that's on your mind, drop me a line at troyc@thebootleg.com!  The best e-mails I get will end up in next week's Corner…


PAC-10 PICKS

If U$C and Oregon State hadn't scored a couple of garbage-time touchdowns, both of my predictions would have been spot on.  I guess a broken clock is right twice a day…

U$C @ Arizona State.  I like Sam Keller, and I like the Sun Devils.  But I don't like them enough to think they're going to win this weekend.  This might be as close as the Trojans come to a loss this year, but I still like U$C by 18.  If Arizona State can't beat these guys, then no one has a chance to beat them.  Damn.

Washington State @ Oregon State.  Mike Hass will go off again.  The Beavers' defense will fail again.  Matt Moore will be sacked again and again and again.  Reser Stadium will empty out early again.  I like Washington State by 21.

Arizona @ cal.  I haven't seen the Wildcats since their game against Utah, but I know their offensive production has been much better this year.  Now, if they only had a run defense… I like cal by 24.

Washington @ UCLA.  The Huskies defense couldn't stop the run if they had air brakes, and they can be thrown on like a dartboard.  The Bruins have Drew Olson and Maurice Drew.  Uh oh.  I like UCLA by 34.

Last week: 2-0 (straight-up & ATS).
This year: 3-0 (straight-up & ATS).
Last year: 25-7 (straight-up), 15-17 (ATS).

Troy Clardy is a host and reporter for the Stanford Cardinal Farm Report, airing Saturdays on FSN Bay Area.


Are you fully subscribed to The Bootleg?  If not, then you are missing out on all the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our website, as well as our full-length feature articles in our glossy magazine.  Sign up today for the biggest and best in Stanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com (sign-up) and The Bootleg Magazine (sign-up)!


The Bootleg Top Stories