I was watching the Minnesota Gophers play the Michigan Wolverines in the Big 10 tournament on Friday night and somehow the end of the game made me think about the NFL.
It was one of those down-to-the-wire college basketball games that makes the sport so exciting, or at least should make the sport so exciting. Unfortunately, whenever the intensity got ratcheted up to 10 and you were getting to the edge of your seat, a timeout would be called. Or the refs would need five minutes to review a play. Then another timeout. Then another review. And so on, and so on…
The end of what should have been a memorable game was ruined by meddling coaches and refs who relied too heavily on the crutch of instant replay.
So what does this have to do with the NFL? I guarantee you if a similar problem existed in the NFL, it would do something to correct it. The NFL isn’t afraid to innovate, even if it means upsetting some people in the process.
If I was in charge of college basketball, I would ban timeouts in the final two minutes. Actually, I would still allow timeouts, but only to stop the clock. Once a timeout is called, the clock would stop, the team that called the timeout would get the ball out of bounds, and play would resume. There would be no long break as the players wandered over to the bench, listened to their coach draw up another play, then wandered back onto the court.
This would be a fairly major change to college basketball, one that would causes coaches and longtime fans resistant to change to start whining. Loudly.
They would claim the new rule alters the way the game is played. I would say, damn right it does. It makes the game better.
They would claim coaches need those timeouts to set up crunch-time plays. I would say that is what practice is for and admonish the coaches for not properly teaching their players how to function in high-pressure situations without someone holding their hand.
They would say the new rule is only to placate casual fans. I would say all fans will appreciate a more exciting game, except maybe for you and your fuddy-duddy friends.
These types of fixable problems don’t just exist in college basketball. Baseball games take way to long (time between pitches should be limited; so should pickoff attempts and mound visits from the catcher). Hockey games are repetitive (the only way to score is crowd a bunch of players in front of the net). NBA games lack ball movement on offense (widen the court a little). College football doesn’t have a playoff system (this will always be a problem as long as college football is run by greedy weasels that hide under the guise of doing “what’s right for the student-athletes”).
With the exception of college football, none of these leagues appear to be serious about making changes that might rock the boat a little bit, but would ultimately improve their games.
The NFL isn’t afraid to innovate. Over the years the league has altered the rules to open up the passing game, taken steps during the season to reduce concussions and used television to massively grow the sport. When many of these changes were made, a lot of coaches, players and fans grumbled.
But the NFL kept growing.
Innovation isn’t the only reason the NFL is America’s No. 1 sport, but it certainly helped. We might not always agree with the decisions or specific innovations that the NFL comes up with, but we do have to appreciate the fact that the league is willing to try different things, even if it might not always be a popular decision at the time.
Instead of rejecting innovation, other leagues could learn a thing or two from the NFL about how to do it right.
Matt Flynn, B.J. Raji and my Gut
- The Packers chose not to use the franchise tag on Matt Flynn, likely ending his time in Green Bay. I said all along that Flynn wouldn’t get tagged unless there was a deal lined up. The odds of that happening were long, and now Flynn will probably get a shot to start somewhere else.
- B.J. Raji finished dead last in Pro Football Focus’s run-stopping ratings. There’s no excuse for a former No. 9 overall pick coming off a breakout season to fall off the radar that much. Raji needs to get stronger. His body seems too doughy and he’s not big enough to rely solely on his size when battling for position inside.
- A.J. Hawk cut his hair for charity. AllGBP.com is unable to confirm reports that Hawk stood up and flicked off the barber to celebrate the end of the haircut.
- Ryan Grant will hit the open free agent market. My gut tells me that some team will offer Grant more than the Packers are willing to pay, thus ending Grant’s days in Green Bay.
- Speaking of my gut, it’s getting smaller. I’ve lost about 30 pounds since the end of January. This has nothing to do with the Packers, but I needed to brag somewhere.
In Case you Missed It
- Aaron Rodgers might have been one of the Saints’ targets in their bounty program. Screw you, Saints.
- Brian Carriveau talks about Connecticut D-lineman Kendall Reyes.
- Tyler Dunne wonders aloud who is going to play center if Scott Wells leaves.
- If you love baseball and good storytelling, pick up Dirk Hayhurst’s new book. While you’re at it, pick up his first book, too.
- If reading is too much work for you, I suggest playing video games. MLB 12: The Show is out for the PS3 and it’s a lot of fun.
Non-Packers Thought of the Week
Forget the Vikings, the Minnesota Timberwolves are the most tortured sports franchise in the state, maybe even in the entire world.
Star PG Ricky Rubio was lost for the season after tearing his ACL against the Lakers on Friday night. That’s five straight seasons where the Wolve’s first-round draft pick went down with a serious injury.
I’m a huge NBA fan and have stuck with the Wolves through all the lean years (actually, most years have been lean, and that’s putting it mildly). Before getting hurt, Rubio was an exciting young player that was part of a resurgence of the NBA in Minnesota and it stinks to see him go down like this.
Hopefully he bounces back and picks up where he left off sometime next season.