The top 25 college football teams were involved in 20 games this past weekend (Virginia Tech didn’t play and eight of the teams played each other). The average score of each team was a little over 30 points. Not the average score of the winning team, the average score of each team, i.e. an average game score of 31-30. It used to be a team scoring 30 points in a football game was assured a win. Not so anymore.
The underlying reason for the scoring hike is, ultimately, the fans. Many have said that soccer isn’t as popular in the United States as it is in the rest of the world because there isn’t enough scoring in soccer. Soccer aficionados claim it’s because Americans don’t understand the beauty of the sport. The very same people in this country are accused of not understanding the work of art a 1-0 pitching duel is (which is why the mound was lowered - and may have to be again) or a basketball game that ends 45-43 or . . . a football game that concludes 7-6.
It’s enough of a change from the “good old days” that coaches are now teaching their quarterbacks to slide (shh! if you’re really still, you can feel Bobby Layne turning over in his grave) and that receivers are allowed to wear those gloves (they gotta have stick’m or something on them). If we need additional answers to the scoring explosions, look no further than some of the newer rules, e.g. the ones designed for player safety: “targeting” or spearing, elimination of horse collar tackles, not being able to hit a “defenseless” receiver or hitting a player (even close to being) out of bounds. How about some of the other less recent rule changes, e.g. stopping the clock after a first down and the restriction of hand checking, resulting in more defensive pass interference calls? When the ball is in the air, a DB has a split second (or less) to decide whether or not to lay one on the receiver. If the throw is too high or too low, i.e. not near the pass catcher’s hands, the result is a play which looks like a defender hit a defenseless receiver; yet if he holds back and his opponent catches the ball, he’s failed to properly do his job - and he’s definitely going to hear about it.
No greater authority (in my book, anyway) than color analyst extraordinaire Gary Danielson made the comment in the Texas A&M-Auburn contest: “It’s tough to be a defensive back nowadays.” Another theory, begun by me (at least I haven’t heard anyone else mention it), is that defenders are not as good in the art of tackling as they used to be. Maybe it’s just that running backs and receivers are better, i.e. faster, stronger and more elusive that in the past or that proper technique isn’t taught (or learned) as well. It could be the runners make it impossible for a tackler to get a solid base and wrap them up. Or because of the question of where the helmet should be positioned has become a mystery with the new rules.
If you as a fan are struggling with the game of football (or if you’re enjoying it more than ever - discounting fantasy leagues), the reason deals with change. To hear an interesting discussion on the subject of dealing with change, go to: CoachGeorgeRaveling.com and click on “Videos.” The latest episode (#38) of JackandCoach Changing with the Times is a click away. In it George Raveling answers my question (I’m the “Jack” of JackandCoach), “Are we taking ourselves too seriously?” The wise old coach says, ” The times have changed and ultimately it becomes incumbent upon all of us that we have to change to meet contemporary times . . . or we’ll all be housed in an antique shop somewhere.” Of coaches and their philosophy, he goes on to say, ” This isn’t open to debate, it’s a mandate, you just have to do it if you intend on realizing any degree of . . . success.”
George then quotes a friend of his with this powerful statement:
“It’s a wise man who changes before he has to.”