Dave Walsh: NFL Should Learn From College Football’s Equal Opportunity Overtime Rules 

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By Dave Walsh
Cowboy State Daily columnist 

I sure do like the way college football handles its overtimes.   

And sure, that big Wyoming win last Saturday helped me realize why I prefer the college way in overtime.

And, of course, the way last year’s AFC Championship Game ended, in overtime, sure served as a reminder as to why I prefer the college way in overtime.   

Not that Josh Allen and the Buffalo offense never got an opportunity to participate had anything to do with it.  Of course not.  Well, OK, maybe it did.  

I must admit, in watching many an NFL game, even games that went to overtime, I don’t remember having a care, one way or the other.  

But the way that one ended really seemed to point out the glaring flaw in NFL overtime rules.  The fact that it was such a big game, a playoff game no less, brought a little extra attention, I suppose. 

For those reasons, and I’m sure there are others, the format for NFL overtimes was changed.  Yes, it was changed.  But when it was changed it was changed for playoff games only.  The regular, flawed format would remain in regular season games.   

Well, the NFL’s regular season has just begun. It will be interesting to see what would happen if the league had made the college overtime setup a new rule in all pro games. 

This isn’t a debate on which game is better overall.  This isn’t about whether the NFL is better than the college football example.  It’s not even a preference comparison.  Which is better, which do you prefer?    

No, we’re just talking “overtimes” here. 

It just seems right, I mean it only seems fair that both teams have an equal “opportunity” to claim victory.  When so much football has been played, only to finish tied, both teams have earned the right to victory.  

And both teams should have an equal chance at it.  One team should not have an advantage in that regard.   

And a coin toss should never be a factor in giving one team an advantage over the other.  

If the team that wins the toss is given the football with the guarantee of a victory if that team scores a touchdown in that possession, well, that’s an advantage.  

If scoring a touchdown means “game over”, well, that’s an advantage.  It provides a bit more motivation to an offense that can literally end the game with a touchdown.  There’s a little boost of intensity to the team that has the ball, and a lot of extra pressure on the team that doesn’t. 

It just doesn’t seem right that either team has any kind of advantage going into overtime.  Other than the obvious advantages that have been there the entire game.  

Like playing on your home field, for example.  The home team has that advantage built in.  

The home field advantage is real, in so many ways, and that’s the way it is in football.  In fact, that’s just the way it is in all sports.  

But that’s it.  The home field is a factor in overtime, but it should be the only advantage.   

It was so much fun to see all of the outstanding qualities of overtime play in college football play-out last Saturday.  The Cowboys definitely had the overwhelming support of the locals in attendance.  

And the home crowd was treated to a wonderful display of effective offense, defense, and special teams play for the entirety of regulation play.  

The Cowboys were full of big plays on offense, almost all coming in comeback mode.  The Cowboy defense, and the Wyoming special teams even got into the act, both units scored touchdowns! 

And then came overtime.  After finishing regulation play tied at 34, it was time for OT, college style.   

That’s when each team gets an equal chance.  That’s when both offenses will have their opportunity.  The defenses for both teams will have their shot in overtime.  And, of course, as was the case in Saturday’s win for the Pokes, special teams had a big say in the outcome.   The Cowboy field-goal unit came up big in overtime. 

This is just one football fan’s observation.   When it comes to overtimes, college football has it figured out.  

Equal opportunity prevails, and when a game goes to overtime, it gets even better.  And being a fan of the pro game too, I hope the NFL is getting into the act, and changing its overtime format for the regular season as well. 

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